Gay men in the US are increasingly discussing issues around HIV prevention in the context of online dating apps, researchers have revealed.
A recent survey has found that half of gay men in the US using a major mobile dating app say at least one potential sexual partner said they were using a drug to prevent contracting HIV.
The study was published online by Aidsmap, and was centred around questions about the use of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), which were answered by 668 men.
The average age of partakers was 38, three-quarters of respondents were white and 14% had been diagnosed with HIV.
The participants were asked, “When you’ve been on mobile dating apps looking for sex partners, has anyone ever told you that they are on PrEP?”, to which 43% of HIV-negative men and 62% of HIV-positive men answered yes.
In addition to PrEP-related responses, the survey also revealed that a significant number of users have interacted with someone who said that he was HIV positive, but had an undetectable viral load.
The questions surrounding undetectable viral load were put forward to 727 men.
When asked if anyone had ever told them they had an undetectable viral load when on a dating app, 68% of HIV-negative men and 90% of HIV-positive men said yes.
The survey was conducted via banner and pop-out advertising on a major dating app between November 2014 and February 2015.
The study was posted online by AidsMap ahead of being published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.
According to the study, many of these potential partners were looking for sex without a condom, with many participants stating that least one of the sexual partners (who had discussed PrEP or undetectable viral load) had asked to have sex without a condom.
The collective response suggests that many men took the use of biomedical prevention methods into account.
In the post on AidsMap, Roger Pebody said: “The researchers noticed a novel seroadaptive behaviour that they call ‘biomed-matching’ — typically an HIV-negative PrEP user having sex without a condom with an HIV-positive man who has an undetectable viral load. They suggest that the pairing of two effective prevention methods is likely to be highly effective. Condomless sex between two HIV-negative PrEP users would also be ‘biomed-matching’.”
The study said that it seems as if the discussion of PrEP use and of having an undetectable viral load is becoming more mainstream among American gay men, specifically in the context of dating apps.
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