Background: The emergence of biomedical and seroadaptive HIV prevention strategies has coincided with a decline in condom use among gay men.
Methods: We undertook a social ecological analysis of condom use and perceptions using nineteen semi-structured interviews with HIV negative gay men in Vancouver, Canada who used HAART-based prevention strategies.
Results: Contributors to inconsistent condom use were found at various levels of the social ecological model. Ongoing concern regarding HIV transmission and belief in the proven efficacy of condoms motivated contextual use. When condoms were not used, participants utilized seroadaptive and biomedical prevention strategies to mitigate risk.
Conclusions: These findings indicate that notions of "safety" and "risk" based on consistent condom use are eroding as other modes of prevention gain visibility. Community-based and public health interventions will need to shift prevention messaging from advocacy for universal condom use toward combination prevention in order to meet gay men's current prevention needs. Interventions should advance gay men's communication and self-advocacy skills in order to optimize these strategies.
Keywords: Combination prevention; Condoms; Gay and bisexual men; HAART; HIV prevention; Seroadaptive strategies; Social ecological model.