REALITY: People in homosexual relationships are no more likely to get HIV than any other group of people. In 2019, 65 percent of new HIV diagnoses were in men who have sex with men (MSM).
MSM are more than twice as likely to have HIV as women and are 25 times more likely to transmit HIV to others, reports UNAIDS. Most gay and bisexual men get HIV by having anal sex without using condoms or medicines to prevent or treat HIV, or by sharing needles or other drug injection equipment. Men can also get HIV from vaginal sex, but this is less common.
The high rate of HIV among MSM in the 1980s and early 1990s was largely due to ignorance about HIV and AIDS and the use of a medical term that implied an inherent link between sexual orientation and what became known as acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS. This assumption was later proven to be wrong.
Among young gay and bisexual men, the rates of new HIV diagnoses are on the rise, particularly those in monogamous relationships. This increase is mainly because these men are less likely than their older counterparts to limit the number of partners they have and to practice safe sex. They also may be less familiar with the symptoms of HIV and how to seek medical care if they become sick. For example, they may be more likely to ignore signs of sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea or chlamydia, and they are less likely to ask their partners for tests.