Qld periodic survey gives a snapshot of gay men's health in 2013
The head of the Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC) says more men need to be tested for HIV, following the release of Queensland’s latest gay periodic survey figures from the Kirby Institute at the University of NSW.
The 2013 survey of 1,103 gay men from Brisbane, Cairns, Rockhampton and the Gold Coast uncovers safe sex practices and a range of information useful in the campaign to reduce HIV transmission in Queensland and was coordinated by Queensland Positive People.
In 2013, the majority of Queensland men in the sample reported being tested for HIV remained stable from the previous year at 87.5 per cent.
However, QuAC executive director John Mikelsons says he is concerned there has been no significant increase in the number of men tested, and 12.5 per cent of respondents said they have never been tested for HIV.
“That figure has barely moved in the past couple of years, and is actually up slightly from where we were in 2009, despite the introduction of rapid HIV testing state wide,” Mikelsons said.
“Although there has been some movement in the frequency of testing for those that have had a test before, we are not going to make serious inroads into the rate of undiagnosed HIV in the community unless we get to the men who have never had a test.
“Roughly one in three of the guys accessing our Testing Point clinic have either never been tested before or haven’t tested in the past 12 months. This demonstrates the value of a friendly, peer-led service that is free, and where the barriers to access have been removed. It is critically important that we ramp up this clinic in the weeks and months ahead and continue our focus on testing.”
The data indicates an increase from 2012 in the number of survey respondents who “sometimes do not use a condom” with casual partners (from 39.1% to 41.7%), and a decrease in the number of respondents who “always use a condom” with casual partners (41.7% to 37.7%).
The number of HIV positive men who disclose their status to casual partners increased from 78.2 per cent to 80.2 per cent.
Recreational drug use remains common within the sample, with the most frequently used drugs being amyl/poppers (36.2%), marijuana (30.6%), Viagra (18.4%), ecstasy (17.1%), crystal methamphetamine (11.4%), amphetamine (10.3%) and cocaine (9.2%).