3,250 gay men were diagnosed with HIV in 2013. It’s the highest number recorded since the start of the epidemic. Increased testing testing will have contributed, but the harsh reality is that rising transmission rates are primarily responsible for this surge. And the problem is set to worsen.
The rising levels of STI diagnoses like gonorrhoea (up 32% between 2013 and 2014) and syphilis (up 46%) among gay men are strong indicators that future HIV transmission rates will continue rising. If it isn’t already, the situation is on the verge of once again becoming a public health crisis.
“In one year those are massive spikes in STIs amongst gay men,” says Yusef Azad, director of policy & campaigns at the National Aids Trust (NAT). “They suggest very significant increases in unsafe sex. Gonorrhoea especially is considered to be an indicator of HIV transmission rates and future diagnoses of HIV.”
Though more people than ever are getting tested, hook-up apps have increased partner turnover, unsafe sex and access to ‘chillouts’ for many gay men. The persistent rise of transmission rates suggests the current prevention strategies are failing to adapt to these changing behaviours, leaving a huge demographic unmoved or unreached by dated campaigns.