Condom use between men who have sex with men (MSM) has declined sharply in Australia.
A new report in The Lancet found between casual partner, the use of condoms had declined in Australia’s two biggest cities, Melbourne and Sydney.
In the study, titled Community-level change in condom use and uptake of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis by gay and bisexual men in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia: results of repeated behavioural surveillance in 2013-17, published the results this week.
In New South Wales the figure of condom use dropped from 46 per cent in 2013 to 31 per cent last year, but found that 70 per cent of MSM still use the protection and often get tested for HIV regularly.
Although many reasons for the decline had been found, one of the main ones was the use of PrEP, which access in the country had grown rapidly over the past few years.
Two of Australia’s leading HIV organisations slammed media reports which claimed that PrEP was to blame for the rise of other STIs.
Data from ACON and AFAO (Australian Federations of Aids organisations) revealed there was little change in the number of STIs except a slight increase of chlamydia.
They said in a statement: “The increases in STI notifications are likely to be due to a combination of a real increase in infections as well as improved testing rates.
“Improved testing helps identify people with undiagnosed STIs who may otherwise go untreated, and potentially transmit their infection.
“Testing and diagnosis can lead to an increased in people with STIs who are notified and treated, and in turn notify their sexual partners to interrupt the spread of STIs.”
They continued and warned that fear mongering around PrEP had to stop.
“To not utilise PrEP as a new prevention tool for fear of triggering an increase in STIs would be bad public health policy.
“Studies have consistently shown that PrEP is extremely effective at preventing HIV transmission and trails have continued to demonstrate excellent public health outcomes.
“What is important is that gay men continue to use a HIV prevention strategy every time. In a contemporary response, this includes the use of PrEP.
“HIV is incurable and lifelong, driving down HIV transmissions is a key public health priority.”