Amid High HIV Rates, city calls for condom use for anal sex

Spurred by high rates of sexually contracted HIV among women, the [New York]city Wednesday put out a renewed call for condom use during anal sex.

“For every sexual encounter, use a condom. People often do what I call the ‘eyeball test’ – you look OK – and that’s just not acceptable, because the germ theory is real,” said Monica Sweeney, an assistant commissioner with city health department.

Just 23 percent of women make their partners wear condoms during anal sex, compared with 61 percent of men, the city found. Many women aren’t aware of the risks, Sweeney said.

“Many younger women have anal sex to, quote, keep their virginity, and sort of think of anal sex as not being sex because they can’t get pregnant … but anal sex carries a greater risk of HIV infection than even vaginal sex,” Sweeney said.

Women ages 18 to 24 are six times more likely to have unprotected anal sex than those who are 45 to 64, the city said.

City officials found an increase in HIV diagnoses through sexual transmission among women, but a decrease in such diagnoses through drug use.

The rate of diagnoses overall is reducing too slowly, the city said. There were 943 diagnoses in 2008 versus 1,141 in 2005.