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Why Are Gay Men Still Not Using Condoms?

Posted in Sexual Health 22 Oct, 2015

Condoms are one little invention that deserve more acclaim than they get. This little latex bag prevents pregnancy and can even save a life. They are cheap to buy and often free from clinics, so why on earth don't people use them more?

Gay men's charity GMFA recently carried out a survey and discovered that 1 in 3 gay men - or rather, men who have sex with men (MSM) - didn't use a condom last time they had sex. This is baffling considering the amount of sexually transmitted infections floating around, not least HIV.

So why don't MSM always use a condom?


Perhaps condoms are more associated with pregnancy than disease prevention. Schools teach sex education, they explain about contraception and parents scare their children witless with stories about pregnancy but STIs are not understood in the same way. It's rather obvious, but MSM don't have to worry about pregnancy therefore perhaps the condom is not considered.

Incorrect Use and Breakage Frustrations

For a condom to work properly it needs to be used properly. Placing it on a flaccid penis protects no one and a lack of lubricant during sex can lead to splits and tears. Perhaps some men are not using condoms correctly and therefore conclude that, because they break anyway, they're not worth the trouble. Of course there's the 'Sex With Wellies On' effect as well. Many think it feels better without.

Alcoholic Influences

Risky behaviour happens when we've had too much to drink. I know I've voted twice on the X Factor after a few glasses of red. Alcohol creates a lack of inhibition, and that leads to regretful mornings.

The Chief Exec of GMFA thinks that the MSM community is undermined by low self-esteem and that leads vulnerable men to drugs and alcohol. Expressing sexuality can be daunting for MSM and the intervention of stimulants breaks down those barriers. That's the condom barrier too it seems.

PrEP - The Anti-HIV drug

Truvada is a medication taken to prevent HIV. Do some MSM opt for meds instead of condoms? There are studies out there that suggest PrEP is more effective and some researchers have found that PrEP advocates speak out against condoms.

It Won't Happen To Me

No one likes to think they will pick up a disease, and no one likes to believe that someone they fancy rotten could give them HIV. Maybe there's a misconception that young, hot and healthy lookers can't have HIV. We all think we're bulletproof until something bad happens to shake us awake.

No Obvious Campaigning

Freddie Mercury's death shook the Western world. He was famous, adored and he died from AIDS complications, but that was years ago. Today's young people do not remember a time when there was no treatment for AIDs, and the shock value has worn off. Or perhaps these young men have AIDS fatigue; they hear about it all the time so don't take notice. They're immune to worry - it's just a fact of life.

What's The Way Forward?

New methods of barrier contraception are needed if the MSM crowd don't use condoms. Viable alternatives are sadly lacking. There's plenty to prevent pregnancy, but condoms are currently the only way to protect against an STI.

And whilst that research is underway we need a massive public health campaign in schools, on TV and on social media because if used properly condoms are highly effective, and that message needs to be pushed.

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