Men that are gay or bisexual with the most sex partners are better at practicing safe sex a study has found.
The findings debunk a common myth that being more promiscuous puts you more at risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease.
The study was conducted by the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS in Vancouver Canada.
Nathan Lachowsky, one of the study’s authors, spoke with CBC radio and claimed the results were not that surprising.
“I think we hear that time and time again… ‘If people just reduce how many sex partners they have’,” said Nathan Lachowsky, on CBC’s The Early Edition.
“But it really it only takes one partner and one sexual act to transmit any kind of STI.”
The sample for the study divided a group of Vancouver men into subgroups based on the the number of sex partners they have had in the past six months.
It then asked them about their sexual behaviour and whether they practiced safe sex.
The study found that the men with the most sex partners were also the best at employing strategies to prevent HIV transmission.
Condoms are one way to reduce HIV transmission. But asking about a partner’s viral load — that’s the number of HIV virus particles in a milliliter of blood — is also a good protective strategy, according to Lachowsky.
Universal access to HIV treatment in British Columbia has improved the number of people who are able to achieve undetectable viral loads.
“It’s using knowledge of HIV status and HIV transmission to make a decision to alter sexual behaviours to reduce the risk of transmission,” Lachowsky explained.
“That research has shown us that [having a low viral load] basically eliminates the likelihood that someone will be able to pass on the virus.”
One in five gay men in Metro Vancouver is living with HIV/AIDS, but Lachowsky thinks his findings are sign that education and outreach initiatives are working.
“I think we wanted to teach people that they could have sexually fully expressive lives and do so in ways that are safe for themselves and safe for their partners,” he said.
Although Lachowsky would love to say he could extrapolate his findings to the straight community, he can’t.
“I do think that in some ways this might reflect something that’s uniquely occurring in the gay men’s community… Because of the disproportionate number of gay men that are living with HIV.”
Last Updated on Sep 7, 2016