The Sixth National HIV Strategy

6.1.1 Gay men and other men who have sex with men

Page last updated: July 2010

An upgraded prevention program focusing on gay men and other men who have sex with men should be conducted to address rises in new infections. The program will reflect a partnership approach and be led by affected communities.

It should be acknowledged that some gay men are at higher risk than others and, therefore, HIV prevention programs should include programs targeted toward specific groups of gay men. These include sexually adventurous or highly sexually active gay men living in major cities and men in HIV sero-discordant relationships.

Consistent condom use is the most effective way to prevent HIV transmission and acquisition, and is particularly important with casual partners. Social research indicates that the majority of gay men consistently use condoms with casual partners. However there is also evidence that gay men’s engagement in risk practices is influenced by a complex range of factors including circumstance, partner, salience of HIV as a health threat and epidemiological virological evidence. Targeted prevention messages should therefore take these factors into account and incorporate information on the evidence base for risk reduction strategies to promote informed decisions.

The effectiveness of peer-based responses to HIV has been clearly demonstrated in gay communities.7 The challenge is to promote risk reduction and safe behaviour among gay men and other men who have sex with men in the broader context of the changing nature of gay communities. Programs implemented will therefore respond to the cultural diversity of gay men including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander gay men, transgender people, sistergirls, gay men from CALD backgrounds, male sex workers and men with cognitive, intellectual or psychiatric disability.

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7 Moodie R, Edwards A, & Payne M, 2003, Review of the national HIV/AIDS strategy 1999–2000 to 2003–04: ‘Getting back on track ... Revitalising Australia’s response to HIV/AIDS’, in Wilson, A, Partridge, N & Calzavara, L eds. 2002 reviews of the national HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C strategies and strategic research. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, pp. 39–80.