Culture, Not PrEP, Linked with Nationwide Rise of STIs in Gay/Bi Men

Taylor Henderson

A new study from UCLA's Williams Institute may have found a new reason why STI's are on the rise among gay and bisexual men in the United States.

While some hypothesized that the STI rise could be linked to the use of PrEP, the drug for preventive HIV treatment, the report shows that's not the case.

"Our data don’t support the idea that we can attribute the rise in STIs to PrEP use, at least not in a direct manner. I personally don’t think that’s what’s happening," Professor Phillip Hammack, the study’s lead author, told Los Angeles Blade. Hammack believes there is a “culture shift about sex.”

Researchers believe because of dating apps, men seeking men have an easier time hooking up, and with HIV on a national decline, they have a smaller fear of contracting HIV. "More people are having sex today. We’re in sort of a quiet sexual revolution when it comes to new identities, new labels, and sexual behavior."

So why aren't people getting tested and on PrEP? Hammack says it's because of stigma. He reported that those studied weren't getting tested because of “misinformation” and “a fair amount of sexual shame,” and weren't pursuing PrEP because they "don’t want to be considered a PrEP whore’—that kind of language,” he said.

Only 4% of gay and bi men in the U.S. are actively on Truvada. In fact, the study also found that many gay and bi men aged 18-25 aren't getting regular HIV screenings and 25% of those men have never even been tested.

Let's change that stigma, gays and bis! Get tested! And read the full report here

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