A survey of 2,886 gay and bisexual men conducted by Centre for Social Research in Health at Australia’s University of New South Wales found that 31.5 percent were in open relationships (compared to 30.6 percent in monogamous ones). While this is interesting, because it suggests that gay and bi men are more open to non-monogamous relationships than straight ones, the study also delivered a handful of other interesting findings about drug use, cruising, HIV-stigma and barebacking.
Here’s four findings that raised our eyebrows:
GAY AND BI MEN STILL LOVE RECREATIONAL DRUGS
“Recreational drug use remains common… with the most frequently used drugs being amyl/poppers (42.2 percent), marijuana (32.0 percent), ecstasy (21.4 percent), Viagra (19.9 percent), cocaine (18.1 percent), amphetamine (11.1 percent), and crystal methamphetamine (9.9 percent).
Between 2012 and 2016, there have been significant increases in the use of marijuana, amyl/poppers, ecstasy, Viagra, cocaine and GHB and a decline in the proportion of men using heroin. Crystal methamphetamine use has remained stable. In general, HIV-positive men remain more likely to report drug use compared with HIV-negative men.”
SOCIAL APPS ARE THE PREFERRED CRUISING METHOD
“Most men reported using mobile applications (like Hornet) to meet male sex partners
(48.2 percent). The next most common way was through the internet (31.9 percent). Other common methods to meet male sex partners were gay bars (28.6 percent), saunas (27.7 percent), meeting men while traveling overseas (19.7 percent) and going to other cities (19.2 percent).”
HIV-NEGATIVE MEN PREFER NEG PARTNERS
Of the respondents, 8.2 percent were HIV-positive. Of those, 34.9 percent were in seroconcordant (same HIV-status) relationships and 65.1 percent were in serodiscordant (mixed HIV-status) relationships.
Among HIV-negative men, 70.9 percent were in seroconcordant relationships and 29.2 percent were in serodiscordant relationships. This all suggests that while some HIV-negative men are open to dating poz guys, most end up in relationships with negative men, possible evidence of lingering HIV-stigma despite the safety offered by anti-retroviral and PrEP medications.
MEN ARE SPLIT BETWEEN USING CONDOMS AND NOT
Of the 54.8 percent of men who reported having casual sex partners, 42.6 percent had condomless anal sex and 40.7 percent had anal sex with condoms. While a majority of the men reporting anal sex were HIV-negative men, a majority of the poz anal lovers were also on HIV treatment and with undetectable viral loads. Interestingly, poz guys were more likely to report having casual anal sex that neg guys by a margin of 73.9 to 38.1 percent.
This doesn’t mean that poz guys are having more anal sex than neg guys, it just means they’re more open to admitting it.
In case you’re curious about the methodology, about 90 percent of the surveyed men were recruited face-to face at same-sex social venues like bars, community organizations, sex-on-premises venues, sexual health clinics and the Midsumma Carnival. The rest participated through an online survey. While the survey had a pretty even distribution among men of all ages, only 5.2 percent of the men identified as bisexual and only 2 percent identified as transgender or intersex.