August 11, 2003
More than 50% of New York City residents who have multiple sex partners are unaware of their HIV status, and about 40% did not use a condom the last time they had sex, according to a report released online last week by the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the New York Times reports (Perez-Pena, New York Times, 8/9). The report, titled "Sex in the City: More HIV Testing and Condom Use Needed!," was based on data from the 2002 Community Health Survey, which included responses from 10,000 city residents ages 18 and older (Associated Press, 8/9). The report, which the department has not released formally, found that 26% of all respondents had received an HIV test in the previous 18 months and 36% had used a condom the last time they had sex. According to the report, 34% of respondents who had sex with three or more partners in the previous year -- about 14% of all respondents -- said that they had received an HIV test in the previous 18 months, and 58% said that they used a condom the last time they had sex. About 45% of male respondents who have sex with men said that they used a condom the last time they had sex, compared with 38% of other male respondents, the report showed. In addition, the report found that 24% of respondents between ages 45 and 64 said that they used a condom the last time they had sex, compared with 61% of respondents between ages 18 and 24 (New York Times, 8/9).
City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden said, "While most New Yorkers are having safer sex, many people still are not. HIV is preventable, but too many people are not taking basic steps to protect themselves and their partners" (Associated Press, 8/9). He added, "Sex in the city needs to get safer, and HIV testing needs to be a routine part of medical care. Anyone who's ever had sex, anyone who's ever used [intravenous] drugs, needs to know their HIV status." Frieden said that city residents should discuss HIV/AIDS and condom use with their sexual partners, according to the Times. Frieden added, "I think there's a degree of complacency, of HIV precaution burnout" (New York Times, 8/9).