Some of the Reasons Why HIV Infection Continues to Spread

Stigma related to HIV continues to reduce communities' ability to address the spread of HIV infection. The fear of being stigmatized often prevents people from coming forward for testing, accessing condoms or insisting on safer sex, and disclosing their HIV status to sexual partners.  As well, some organizations are hesitant to provide accurate and accessible information about sexuality and sexually transmitted infections.

Another factor is that condom use and safer needle use is compromised by depression and other mental health issues, stigma, marginalization and other social determinants of health (e.g., lack of adequate housing, income). Marginalization and discrimination due to homophobia, racism, and other prejudices also contribute to the spread of infection.

Adding to this is a lack of accurate information available to young people through the public education system as a result of resource limitations, homophobia and HIV stigma.

'Safer sex fatigue' has been touted in the media as a major cause of unsafe sex among gay men. In fact, Ontario research suggests a complex range of beliefs among some gay men concerning condoms that can lead to risk taking. For example, fear of discussing condom use due to power imbalances, belief that a condom reduces intimacy and pleasure and interferes with ability to maintain an erection and that using condoms signifies mistrust in intimate relationships.

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