Image credit: iStock/Joloei Image credit: iStock/Joloei

Condom use among gay men in Australia has fallen, according to data taken from the Australian Gay Community Periodic Surveys from the last decade. The studies show that the use of condoms has seen a steady decline over the years, which could be putting them at risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

The University of New South Wales looked at all the data and found that more men are using serosorting - choosing partners with the same serostatus in an attempt to reduce the chances of contracting or transmitting HIV - or are ensuring themselves or their partners have an undetectable HIV viral load.

Although those diagnosed with HIV are showing that they are more confident when it comes to reducing the risk of transmitting the disease, the data doesn't show whether HIV-positive men are fully aware of the impact that antiretrovirals can have on preventing transmission.

Carla Treloar from the University of New South Wales said about the findings: "Our report highlights the urgent need for HIV prevention messages to reflect the expanding approaches gay men find most suitable. These messages should include biomedical and behavioural tools and address diverse groups of gay men.”

While fewer gay men are using condoms, new HIV infections in gay men across Australia have remained stable, along with new diagnoses of the disease. Last year (2015), there were 4.5 new HIV diagnoses for every 100 people, which is 32 per cent lower than back in 2006, showing a positive trend.

While regular screening for HIV and STIs are both increasing, according to the report, the fall in condom use could still lead to an outbreak of sexually transmitted diseases, especially if people are not aware that they have contracted them.

It is much safer to ensure you use condoms when having sex, especially if it is with casual partners. You should also make sure you are getting tested comprehensively for STIs on a regular basis to avoid transmitting anything to sexual partners.