Gay NZ Staff
17 February 2015
New research shows most young gay and bisexual men in New Zealand habitually use condoms.
Published in the international journal Sexually Transmitted Infections, the research uses information collected from the 2006-2011 Gay Auckland Periodic Sex Surveys and the Gay men’s Online Sex Survey.
They were carried out by researchers at Auckland University, Otago University, and the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, who investigated patterns in condom use for 2,412 gay and bisexual men aged 16-29, from across the country.
It finds most young gay and bisexual men use condoms as a habit, particularly with their casual partners.
Seventy per cent of the participants reported “frequent” use, defined as always or almost always using condoms in the previous six months.
Most young men who had used condoms frequently with a regular partner also used them with any casual partners they had over this period.
However, over half of young men reported habitually low use of condoms with their regular partner, who researchers say can be an important and often unrecognised source of new HIV infections.
Dr. Nathan Lachowsky, who led the analysis as part of his PhD dissertation says it’ss important we understand how condom use and non-use vary across different partnerships and sexual positions, “particularly for this new generation of younger gay and bisexual men – as these are key drivers of the HIV epidemic.”
Less frequent condom use was more common among young men recruited from internet dating sites, who had over 20 recent sexual partners, who self-identified as Pacific versus European/Pākehā, who had less formal education, who were HIV-positive, who had longer regular sexual relationships, or who also reported sex with women.
“Condom access, familiarity, and promotion programmes need to engage all young men and work especially hard at being relevant to these sub-groups of young men with less frequent use,” says Dr Peter Saxton, Director of the Gay Men’s Sexual Health research group at Auckland University.
Dr Lachowsky says if we establish condom use skills and practices early on, especially for these younger gay and bisexual men, “there will be a lifetime of benefit in terms of reduced transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.”