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Gay and Bisexual Men's Health


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Consistent and Correct Use of Condoms

To achieve maximum protection by using condoms, they must be used consistently and correctly.

The failure of condoms to protect against STD/HIV transmission usually results from inconsistent or incorrect use, rather than product failure.


Serosorting is a practice some gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) use in an effort to reduce their HIV risk. CDC does not recommend as a safer sex practice.

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The overall number of new HIV cases – referred to as HIV incidence – has remained relatively stable at approximately 50,000 new cases annually. However, the number of new cases among people aged 13-29 years increased by 21 percent from 2006 to 2009. The rise in HIV incidence among young adults was fueled by a 34 percent increase in HIV infections among young gay and bisexual men. For more information, see HIV Incidence.

How is HIV spread?

HIV is spread primarily by:

  • Having unprotected sex with someone who has HIV
  • Sharing needles, syringes, or other equipment used to prepare illicit drugs for injection
  • Being born to an infected mother

What are the signs and symptoms of HIV?

Within a few weeks of being infected with HIV, some people develop flu-like symptoms that last for a week or two, but others have no symptoms at all. After initial infection, people may have no symptoms for years.

How can I prevent HIV?

Be smart about HIV. Here's what you can do:

Get the facts—Arm yourself with basic information: How is HIV spread? How can you protect yourself? How can you protect your partners?

Take control—You have the facts; now protect yourself and your loved ones. There are three essential ways to reduce your risk:

  1. Don't have sex (i.e., anal, vaginal, or oral).
  2. Only have sex (i.e., anal, vaginal, or oral) if you're in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner you know has the same HIV status as you.
  3. Use a condom every time you have anal, vaginal, or oral sex. Correct and consistent use of the male latex condom is highly effective in reducing HIV transmission.
If you are HIV-positive, let potential sex partners know your status before you have sex.

Put yourself to the test—CDC recommends that MSM be tested for HIV and STDs at least annually. CDC data show that sexually active MSM might benefit from more frequent testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months). Regular testing allows people who have HIV to know their status, get life-saving treatment and care, and prevent HIV transmission to others. Call 1-800-CDC-INFO or visit to find HIV testing locations near you.

Start talking—Talk to everyone you know about HIV—friends and family, coworkers and neighbors. Have ongoing and open discussions with your partners about HIV testing and risk behaviors. Talking openly about HIV can reduce the stigma that keeps too many from seeking the testing, prevention and treatment services, and support they need.

Visit Act Against AIDS for more information about HIV and what you can do to stop HIV.

Contact Us:
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    1600 Clifton Road
    Atlanta, GA
    30329-4027 USA
  • 800-CDC-INFO
    TTY: (888) 232-6348
  • Contact CDC–INFO

Prevention Through Health Care

Make conversation before you make out. Click here for a few conversation starters. Start Talking. Stop HIV.

Testing Makes Us Stronger The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Road Atlanta, GA 30329-4027, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC–INFO
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