A vanishing weapon in the fight against HIV: condoms

Gay and bisexual men are using condoms less than ever, and the decline has been particularly pronounced among young or Hispanic men, according to a study. new study. The worrying trend points to an urgent need for better prevention strategies as the nation struggles to defeat the HIV epidemic, researchers said.

Over the past decade, prevention medications known as PrEP have helped feed to moderate drop in HIV rates. And yet, despite persistent public health campaigns promoting drugs, they have has not been adopted in substantial numbers by black and Hispanic men who are gay or bisexual.

The use of condoms, which prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, has been decreasing across the board in recent years, not just among gay men, which has contributed to an increase in sexually transmitted infections.

The researchers said that, with so much focus on PrEPCondoms have been overlooked by public health officials, contributing to the decline in their use.

“The goal of promoting PrEP is valuable, but it has overshadowed other prevention strategies like condoms,” said Steven Goodreau, an HIV expert at the University of Washington. He led the new study and co-wrote a related paper. editorial.

A spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged a decline in condom use but said the agency continues to promote them. Local health departments that receive federal money For HIV prevention, they must include the distribution of condoms in their strategies, for example.

HIV rates have decreased in recent years thanks in part to PrEP. But the decline in the United States (12 percent from 2017 to 2021, according to government estimates – has followed many others wealthy western nations and even some very affected African countries.

Gay and bisexual men are disproportionately affected: they constitute only 2 percent of American adults and 70 percent of new cases of HIV. And the infection rates are much higher in black and Hispanic gay men than in white gay men.

In 2012, pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, debuted amid historical research proving that, when taken daily, antiretroviral medications almost eliminate the risk of contracting HIV