The majority of Sydney gay men are in relationships, but have sex with other people and often aren’t completely honest about it with their boyfriends, according to an ongoing study.
The Health in Men (HIM) survey, conducted by the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research (NCHECR), looked at the sex lives of 1,430 HIV-negative gay men living in Sydney.
It found that 70 percent of the men had a regular partner at the time of the interview, and that 33 percent stopped using condoms within the first month of the relationship.
Most of the men -“ 87 percent -“ had entered into an agreement with their partner about having sex with each other or with other people. Half of these men agreed not to use condoms with each other.
Twenty-nine percent of those surveyed agreed not to have sex with men outside their relationship. Out of those who did have casual sex outside the relationship, 34 percent agreed to always use condoms.
Of those who had agreements with their partners, 28 percent reported having broken those agreements and a third of those men did not inform their partner. Those who broke agreements were more likely to engage in unprotected anal intercourse with casual partners, the study found.
Half the men surveyed reported discomfort discussing sex outside the relationship with their partner.
Difficulty discussing these issues may place these men at increased risk of breaking their agreements and may place both themselves and their partners at increased risk of infection, the study said.
About one in 10 men who took part in the study tested positive for gonorrhoea or chlamydia -“ mainly in the rectum or throat as infections there show fewer symptoms.
So regular screening is still an important issue for gay men, the study said.
The NCHECR is holding a social function for all the men who took part in the HIM study at Arq this Thursday 8 December from 8pm.