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Sex lives of Swiss gays

The Lausanne University Institute of Social and Preventative Medicine has been evaluating the Federal Health Office’s strategy to prevent HIV and AIDS on a regular basis since 1986.

This content was published on January 18, 2004 - 17:15

Its latest results shed a telling light on the sexual behaviour of gays in Switzerland, based on surveys conducted in the 1990s and in 2000.

More than 80 per cent of those surveyed admitted to having more than one partner during the previous 12 months and a third had more than ten partners.

Sex occurred frequently, according to the findings, with a third of those questioned saying they had sex more than once a week.

The results also revealed that those who are HIV positive are more sexually active than HIV negative and untested people.

In 2000, more than half of HIV positive “men who have sex with men” (MSM) had more than ten partners in the previous 12 months. About a third had anal sex without using a condom.

Changing partners

The number of MSM with a stable partner rose from 46 per cent in 1987 to 72 per cent in 2000. But half of those in a long-term relationship were not monogamous.

The use of meeting points and the gay social scene for sex also rose. In 2000, more than half of respondents visited a sauna frequently, more than a third went to parks and nearly a third used public toilets.

The surveys revealed that those using these locations for sex took fewer precautions. Sauna customers who had anal sex without a condom rose from 13 per cent in 1997 to 21 per cent in 2000.

People who had sex with occasional partners showed a similar reluctance to use condoms.

New programme

Switzerland’s first Aids case was diagnosed in 1981. Four years later, public authorities and non-governmental organisations took up cudgels against the new scourge.

This Swiss government unveiled its national HIV-Aids programme for 2004 to 2008 towards the end of 2003.

The latest HIV-Aids Programme has two substantial hurdles to overcome – the rise in HIV infection among homosexual men and a lack of funds.

The five-year programme has three core areas – preventing HIV from spreading, treatment and advice on HIV and Aids, and solidarity with those who are either at risk from infection, are already infected or sick.

swissinfo, Faryal Mirza

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