WELLNESS
11/27/2013 01:54 pm ET

HIV-Positive Gay Men Who Know Their HIV Status Are Less Likely To Engage In Risky Sex: Study

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Here's a good reason to know your status.

HIV-positive gay and bisexual men who are aware of their HIV status are less likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors than those who aren't aware of their status, according to a new government report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Thirty-three percent of HIV-positive men who have sex with men but who are unaware of their HIV status engaged in unprotected anal sex in 2011 with someone who did not have HIV.

Comparatively, 13 percent of HIV-positive men who have sex with men who did know their status engaged in unprotected anal sex with someone who did not have HIV.

"While we remain concerned about potentially increasing levels of sexual risk, it is encouraging to see that risk is substantially lower in those who know they have HIV," Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H, director of the CDC, said in a statement. "HIV testing remains one of our most powerful tools to reverse the epidemic. Everyone should know their HIV status."

The findings are especially relevant as a report published last year from the CDC showed that the rate of new HIV infections is increasing among young gay and bisexual men.

According to the CDC, men who have sex with men make up almost two-thirds of new HIV infections in the United States. About half of the 1.1 million people living with HIV in the U.S. are men who have sex with men.

The new report also shows that more men who have sex with men are engaging in unprotected anal sex, with 57 percent engaging in this type of sex in 2011 compared with 48 percent in 2005.

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