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Will PrEP Make Gay Men Stop Using Condoms?

Will PrEP Make Gay Men Stop Using Condoms?


This month we'll look at one myth a day about PrEP — and tell you why it doesn't hold up.

Editor's Note: There are, unfortunately, many myths going around about pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP  — the use of an antiretroviral drug by HIV-negative people to prevent them from being infected with HIV during sex. This month we’ll look at one myth per day and offer evidence why it’s not true.

Myth 1: PrEP will lead gay men to give up condoms.

Truth: Actually, a 2013 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that condom use by gay men was on the decline long before PrEP was available. In 2011, 57 percent of men who have sex with men reported having anal sex without a condom at least once in the previous 12 months, up from 48 percent in 2005. PrEP didn’t cause those numbers. Also, it should be noted that receptive partners, both male and female, don’t generally “use” condoms but negotiate their use. (There is a condom for use by receptive partners, but the other kind is far more common.) So PrEP provides one more tool to help these people protect themselves against infection. “We have 30 years of behavioral research telling us that most gay men do not use condoms consistently, and according to the CDC, inconsistent is as risky as not at all,” says My Fabulous Disease vlogger Mark S. King. “I believe that rather than wishing they would use condoms more often, we pragmatically offer them other options, along with outlining the risks as we know them  — if I’m assuming risks in my treatment regimen, why shouldn’t an HIV-negative person be awarded the same rights?”

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