Objectives: To estimate the prevalence and timing of homosexual experience among British men; to explore the patterns of sexual practices and partnerships in 2000, and behavioural and attitudinal changes between 1990 and 2000 among men who have sex with men (MSM).
Design: Two large, stratified probability sample surveys of the general population.
Methods: Trained interviewers administered a combination of face-to-face and self-completion questionnaires to men aged 16 to 44 years resident in Britain (n = 6000 in 1990 and n = 4762 in 2000).
Results: In 2000, 2.8% of British men reported sex with men in the past 5 years. 46.0% of MSM reported five or more partners in the past 5 years, and 59.8% reported unprotected anal intercourse in the past year. A total of 33.0% of MSM reported one or more female partner(s) in the past year. In comparison with 1990, there was a significant increase in the proportion of MSM in the population in 2000, and among these men, in the proportion reporting receptive anal intercourse in the past year [age-adjusted odds ratio (OR), 2.08; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.08-4.00], but no significant change in self-perceived HIV-risk (age-adjusted OR, 1.11; 95% CI, 0.49-2.51) or HIV testing in past 5 years (age-adjusted OR, 1.14; 95% CI, 0.57-2.25).
Conclusions: Evidence of increasing prevalence of homosexual intercourse among the British male population coupled with increases in some HIV-risk behaviours among MSM suggests overall increasing numbers at risk in the population. Although these changes may partly reflect an increased willingness to report these behaviours, our results are consistent with increasing incidence of sexually transmitted infections and behavioural surveillance data.