A revolutionary HIV drug has led to a stark fall in number of gay and bi-sexual men using condoms for anal sex.
Researchers discovered condom use in high risk group has dropped while at the same time, use of pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, has soared.
Critics have repeatedly blasted the controversial drug, which is 90 per cent effective at preventing HIV infection when taken daily, as a ‘promiscuity pill’.
According to the new study, published in The Lancet HIV, survey data from gay and bi-sexual data from two Aussie cities found introducing PrEP resulted in the number of men engaging in condomless penetrative sex in Melbourne and Sydney increased.
The study found that over a period of 4 years, the use of the drug rose by 22 per cent while consistent condom use dropped by 15 per cent.
Men not on the drug, therefore not benefiting from it, were also having more condomless sex - up from 30 per cent to 39 per cent.
Study author, professor Martin Holt, study author, from the University of New South Wales, said that the findings suggest that the rapid uptake of PrEP disrupted condom use at a community level.
He further added, “If individuals not taking PrEP feel safer, they might use condoms less often because they perceive that sex without a condom has become less risky as PrEP use by others increases.”
PrEP is a pill that contains two medicines taken by HIV negative people before sex to reduce the chance of getting the virus.
The combination kills off the virus during infection, but must be taken consistently to be effective. It does not prevent other STIs.
Gay and bisexual men are most susceptible to catching HIV because anal sex carries a 10 times higher risk of infection than vaginal.
This is due to cells in the anus being more susceptible to HIV, as well as fluid in semen and the anus' lining carrying more HIV than vaginal secretions.
Gay men at high risk because their partner has HIV are now tested every three months, and are immediately offered anti-viral drugs if they test positive.