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1.  Estimating the Population Sizes of Men Who Have Sex With Men in US States and Counties Using Data From the American Community Survey 
In the United States, male-to-male sexual transmission accounts for the greatest number of new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) diagnoses and a substantial number of sexually transmitted infections (STI) annually. However, the prevalence and annual incidence of HIV and other STIs among men who have sex with men (MSM) cannot be estimated in local contexts because demographic data on sexual behavior, particularly same-sex behavior, are not routinely collected by large-scale surveys that allow analysis at state, county, or finer levels, such as the US decennial census or the American Community Survey (ACS). Therefore, techniques for indirectly estimating population sizes of MSM are necessary to supply denominators for rates at various geographic levels.
Our objectives were to indirectly estimate MSM population sizes at the county level to incorporate recent data estimates and to aggregate county-level estimates to states and core-based statistical areas (CBSAs).
We used data from the ACS to calculate a weight for each county in the United States based on its relative proportion of households that were headed by a male who lived with a male partner, compared with the overall proportion among counties at the same level of urbanicity (ie, large central metropolitan county, large fringe metropolitan county, medium/small metropolitan county, or nonmetropolitan county). We then used this weight to adjust the urbanicity-stratified percentage of adult men who had sex with a man in the past year, according to estimates derived from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), for each county. We multiplied the weighted percentages by the number of adult men in each county to estimate its number of MSM, summing county-level estimates to create state- and CBSA-level estimates. Finally, we scaled our estimated MSM population sizes to a meta-analytic estimate of the percentage of US MSM in the past 5 years (3.9%).
We found that the percentage of MSM among adult men ranged from 1.5% (Wyoming) to 6.0% (Rhode Island) among states. Over one-quarter of MSM in the United States resided in 1 of 13 counties. Among counties with over 300,000 residents, the five highest county-level percentages of MSM were San Francisco County, California at 18.5% (66,586/359,566); New York County, New York at 13.8% (87,556/635,847); Denver County, Colorado at 10.5% (25,465/243,002); Multnomah County, Oregon at 9.9% (28,949/292,450); and Suffolk County, Massachusetts at 9.1% (26,338/289,634). Although California (n=792,750) and Los Angeles County (n=251,521) had the largest MSM populations of states and counties, respectively, the New York City-Newark-Jersey City CBSA had the most MSM of all CBSAs (n=397,399).
We used a new method to generate small-area estimates of MSM populations, incorporating prior work, recent data, and urbanicity-specific parameters. We also used an imputation approach to estimate MSM in rural areas, where same-sex sexual behavior may be underreported. Our approach yielded estimates of MSM population sizes within states, counties, and metropolitan areas in the United States, which provide denominators for calculation of HIV and STI prevalence and incidence at those geographic levels.
PMCID: PMC4873305  PMID: 27227149
sexual behavior; population; men who have sex with men; demography
2.  Are HIV Epidemics among Men Who Have Sex with Men Emerging in the Middle East and North Africa?: A Systematic Review and Data Synthesis 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(8):e1000444.
A systematic review by Laith Abu-Raddad and colleagues collates and analyzes the epidemiology of HIV among men who have sex with men in Middle Eastern and North African countries.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) bear a disproportionately higher burden of HIV infection than the general population. MSM in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are a largely hidden population because of a prevailing stigma towards this type of sexual behavior, thereby limiting the ability to assess infection transmission patterns among them. It is widely perceived that data are virtually nonexistent on MSM and HIV in this region. The objective of this review was to delineate, for the first time, the evidence on the epidemiology of HIV among MSM in MENA.
Methods and Findings
This was a systematic review of all biological, behavioral, and other related data on HIV and MSM in MENA. Sources of data included PubMed (Medline), international organizations' reports and databases, country-level reports and databases including governmental and nongovernmental organization publications, and various other institutional documents. This review showed that onsiderable data are available on MSM and HIV in MENA. While HIV prevalence continues at low levels among different MSM groups, HIV epidemics appear to be emerging in at least few countries, with a prevalence reaching up to 28% among certain MSM groups. By 2008, the contribution of MSM transmission to the total HIV notified cases increased and exceeded 25% in several countries. The high levels of risk behavior (4–14 partners on average in the last six months among different MSM populations) and of biomarkers of risks (such as herpes simplex virus type 2 at 3%–54%), the overall low rate of consistent condom use (generally below 25%), the relative frequency of male sex work (20%–76%), and the substantial overlap with heterosexual risk behavior and injecting drug use suggest potential for further spread.
This systematic review and data synthesis indicate that HIV epidemics appear to be emerging among MSM in at least a few MENA countries and could already be in a concentrated state among several MSM groups. There is an urgent need to expand HIV surveillance and access to HIV testing, prevention, and treatment services in a rapidly narrowing window of opportunity to prevent the worst of HIV transmission among MSM in the Middle East and North Africa.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
AIDS first emerged in the early 1980s among gay men living in the US. But, as the disease rapidly spread, it became clear that AIDS also affects heterosexual men and women. Now three decades on, more than 30 million people are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV is most often spread by having unprotected sex with an infected partner and, globally, most sexual transmission of HIV now occurs during heterosexual sex. However, 5%–10% of all new HIV infections still occur in men who have sex with men (MSM, a term that encompasses homosexual, bisexual, and transgender men, and heterosexual men who sometimes have sex with men). In some countries, male-to-male sexual contact remains the most important transmission route. Moreover, although the global prevalence of HIV infection (the proportion the world's population infected with HIV) has stabilized, the prevalence of HIV infection among MSM seems to be increasing in multiple countries and new and resurgent HIV epidemics among MSM populations are being frequently reported.
Why Was This Study Done?
In the US and the UK, the MSM population is visible and has helped to raise awareness about the risks of HIV transmission through male-to-male sexual contact. In many other countries, MSM are much less visible, fearing discrimination, stigmatization (being considered socially unacceptable) or arrest. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA, a geographical region that encompasses countries that share historical, socio-cultural, linguistic and religious characteristics), MSM are the most hidden HIV risk group. Consequently, very little is known about HIV transmission patterns among MSM in MENA. Indeed, it is widely thought that there is virtually no information available on the epidemiology (causes, distribution, and control) of HIV among MSM in this region. In this systematic review and data synthesis, the researchers use predefined search criteria to identify all the published and unpublished data on the epidemiology of HIV among MSM in MENA and combine (synthesize) these data to produce a coherent picture of the HIV epidemic in this potentially key group of people for HIV transmission in this region.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 26 articles and 51 other country-level reports and sources of data that included data on the prevalence of male-to-male sexual contact, HIV transmission, levels of high-risk behavior, and the extent of knowledge about HIV among MSM in MENA. The prevalence of HIV infection among MSM was low in most countries but high in others. For example, the infection rate in Pakistan was 27.6% among one MSM group. Importantly, there was some evidence of increasing HIV prevalence and emerging epidemics among MSM in the region. Thus, by 2008, MSM transmission was responsible for more than a quarter of notified cases of HIV in several countries. Worryingly, MSM were involved in several types of HIV-related high risk behavior. For example, they had, on average, between 4 and 14 sexual partners in the past six months, their rates of consistent condom use were generally below 25% and, in some countries, MSM frequently reported injecting drug use, another common mode of HIV transmission. In addition, 20%–75.5% of MSM exchanged sex for money and contact between MSM and female sex workers and other female sexual partners was often common. Finally, although the level of basic knowledge about HIV/AIDS was high, the level of comprehensive knowledge was limited with a high proportion of MSM perceiving their risk of contracting HIV as low.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that there is considerable and increasing data about HIV transmission and risk behavior among MSM in MENA. However, the quality of this evidence varies greatly. Little has been collected over time in individual populations and, because only the visible part of the MSM populations in many MENA countries has been sampled, these findings may not be representative of all MSM in this region. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that HIV epidemics are emerging among MSM in several MENA countries. Importantly, the high levels of risk behaviors practiced by many MSM in MENA mean that MSM could become the pivotal risk group for HIV transmission in this region in the next decade. There is, therefore, an urgent need to expand HIV surveillance and access to HIV testing, prevention and treatment services among MSM in this region to limit the size of the HIV epidemic.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Information about the status of the HIV epidemic in the Middle East and North Africa can be found in the World Bank/UNAIDS/WHO report Characterizing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Middle East and North Africa: Time for strategic action
Information about the global HIV epidemic among men who have sex with men can be found in the World Bank report The Global HIV Epidemics among Men Who Have Sex with Men
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
HIV InSite has comprehensive information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV transmission and transmission in gay men and other MSM and on safer sex
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV, AIDS and men who have sex with men and on HIV and AIDS prevention (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also have information about HIV/AIDS among men who have sex with men (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC3149074  PMID: 21829329
3.  Statewide Estimation of Racial/Ethnic Populations of Men Who Have Sex with Men in the U.S. 
Public Health Reports  2011;126(1):60-72.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) bear the greatest burden of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in every state in the U.S., but their populations are poorly defined. We estimated and compared populations of MSM in 2007 by region, state, and race/ethnicity.
We averaged findings from two statistical models we had previously developed to estimate the total state-specific percentage and number of males who were MSM. The models were based, respectively, on state-specific rural/suburban/urban characteristics and an index using state-specific household census data on same-sex male unmarried partners. A third model, based on racial/ethnic ratios from a nationally representative behavioral survey, partitioned these statewide numbers by race/ethnicity.
Of an estimated 7.1 million MSM residing in the U.S. in 2007, 71.4% (5.1 million) were white, 15.9% (1.1 million) were Hispanic, 8.9% (635,000) were black, 2.7% (191,000) were Asian, 0.4% (26,000) were American Indian/Alaska Native, 0.1% (6,000) were Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander, and 0.6% (41,000) were of multiple/unknown race/ethnicity. The overall U.S. percentage of males who were MSM (6.4%) varied from 3.3% in South Dakota to 13.2% in the District of Columbia, which we treated as a state. Estimated numbers of MSM ranged from 9,612 in Wyoming to 1,104,805 in California.
Plausible estimates of MSM populations by state and race/ethnicity can inform and guide HIV/AIDS surveillance, allocation of resources, and advocacy. They can help in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of HIV prevention programs and other services. Using MSM numbers as denominators, estimates of population-based MSM HIV incidence, prevalence, and mortality rates could help clarify national and state-level epidemic dynamics. Until corroborated by other modeling and/or empirical research, these estimates should be used with caution.
PMCID: PMC3001824  PMID: 21351396
4.  Bias in Online Recruitment and Retention of Racial and Ethnic Minority Men Who Have Sex With Men 
The Internet has become an increasingly popular venue for men who have sex with men (MSM) to meet potential sex partners. Given this rapid increase in online sex-seeking among MSM, Internet-based interventions represent an important HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) prevention strategy. Unfortunately, black and Hispanic MSM, who are disproportionately impacted by the HIV epidemic in the United States, have been underrepresented in online research studies.
Our objective was to examine and quantify factors associated with underrecruitment and underretention of MSM of color in an online HIV behavioral risk research study of MSM recruited from an online social networking site.
Internet-using MSM were recruited through banner advertisements on targeted at men who reported in their MySpace profile their age as at least 18 and their sexual orientation as gay, bisexual, or unsure. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to estimate the odds stratified by race and ethnicity of the MySpace user clicking through the banner advertisement. To characterize survey retention, Kaplan-Meier survival curves and multivariable Cox proportional hazards models identified factors associated with survey dropout.
Over 30,000 MySpace users clicked on the study banner advertisements (click-through rate of 0.37%, or 30,599 clicks from 8,257,271 impressions). Black (0.36% or 6474 clicks from 1,785,088 impressions) and Hispanic (0.35% or 8873 clicks from 2,510,434 impressions) MySpace users had a lower click-through rate compared with white (0.48% or 6995 clicks from 1,464,262 impressions) MySpace users. However, black men had increased odds of click-through for advertisements displaying a black model versus a white model (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 1.83, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.72 - 1.95), and Hispanic participants had increased odds of click-through when shown an advertisement displaying an Asian model versus a white model (adjusted OR = 1.70, 95% CI 1.62 - 1.79). Of the 9005 men who consented to participate, 6258 (69%) completed the entire survey. Among participants reporting only male sex partners, black non-Hispanic and Hispanic participants were significantly more likely to drop out of the survey relative to white non-Hispanic participants (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.6, 95% CI 1.4 - 1.8 and HR = 1.3, 95% CI 1.1 - 1.4, respectively). Men with a college-level of education were more likely to complete the survey than those with a high-school level of education (HR = 0.8, 95% CI 0.7 - 0.9), while men who self-identified as heterosexual were more likely to drop out of the survey compared with men who self-identified as gay (HR = 2.1, 95% CI 1.1 - 3.7).
This analysis identified several factors associated with recruitment and retention of MSM in an online survey. Differential click-through rates and increased survey dropout by MSM of color indicate that methods to recruit and retain black and Hispanic MSM in Internet-based research studies are paramount. Although targeting banner advertisements to MSM of color by changing the racial/ethnic composition of the advertisements may increase click-through, decreasing attrition of these study participants once they are engaged in the survey remains a challenge.
PMCID: PMC3221372  PMID: 21571632
HIV infections/prevention and control; Internet; homosexuality male; research methodology; behavioral research
5.  Increases in HIV Testing among Men Who Have Sex with Men — National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System, 20 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas, 2008 and 2011 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e104162.
In 2011, 62% of estimated new HIV diagnoses in the United States were attributed to male-to-male sexual contact (men who have sex with men, MSM); 39% of these MSM were black or African American. HIV testing, recommended at least annually by CDC for sexually active MSM, is an essential first step in HIV care and treatment for HIV-positive individuals. A variety of HIV testing initiatives, designed to reach populations disproportionately affected by HIV, have been developed at both national and local levels. We assessed changes in HIV testing behavior among MSM participating in the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System in 2008 and 2011. We compared the percentages tested in the previous 12 months in 2008 and 2011, overall and by race/ethnicity and age group. In unadjusted analyses, recent HIV testing increased from 63% in 2008 to 67% in 2011 overall (P<0.001), from 63% to 71% among black MSM (P<0.001), and from 63% to 75% among MSM of other/multiple races (P<0.001); testing did not increase significantly for white or Hispanic/Latino MSM. Multivariable model results indicated an overall increase in recent HIV testing (adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR] = 1.07, P<0.001). Increases were largest for black MSM (aPR = 1.12, P<0.001) and MSM of other/multiple races (aPR = 1.20, P<0.001). Among MSM aged 18–19 years, recent HIV testing was shown to increase significantly among black MSM (aPR = 1.20, P = 0.007), but not among MSM of other racial/ethnic groups. Increases in recent HIV testing among populations most affected by HIV are encouraging, but despite these increases, improved testing coverage is needed to meet CDC recommendations.
PMCID: PMC4151966  PMID: 25180514
6.  Epidemiology of infections by HIV, Syphilis, Gonorrhea and Lymphogranuloma Venereum in Barcelona City: a population-based incidence study 
BMC Public Health  2015;15:1015.
The aim of this study was to determine the evolution of HIV infection, gonorrhea, syphilis and lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV), and their epidemiological characteristics in Barcelona city.
Population-based incidence study of all newly occurring diagnoses of HIV infection, syphilis, gonorrhea and LGV detected in Barcelona between January 2007 and December 2011. A descriptive analysis was performed. The annual incidence rates per 100,000 inhabitants were calculated by sex, sexual conduct and educational level. To estimate global sex-specific rates we used the Barcelona city census; for the calculation of rates by sexual conduct and educational level we used estimates of the Barcelona Health Interview Survey. Trends were analysed using the chi-squared test for linear trend.
HIV. 66.8 % of the HIV cases were men who had sex with men (MSM). The incidence rates in MSM over the study period were from 692.67/100,000 to 909.88/100,000 inh. Syphilis. 74.2 % of the syphilis cases were MSM. The incidence rates in MSM were from 224.9/100,000 to 891.97/100,000 inh. and the MSM with a university education ranged from 196.3/100,000 to 1020.8/100,000. Gonorrhea. 45.5 % of the gonorrhea cases were MSM. The incidence rates in MSM were from 164.24/100,000 to 404.79/100,000 inh. and the MSM with university education ranged from 176.7/100,000 to 530.1/100,000 inh.. Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV). 95.3 % of the LGV cases are MSM. The incidence rates in MSM were from 24.99/100,000 to 282.99/100,000 inh. and the MSM with university education ranged from 9.3/100,000 to 265/100,000 inh.
An increase in cases of STI was observed. These STI mainly affected MSM with a university education. Continuing to monitor changes in the epidemiology of STI, and identifying the most affected groups should permit redesigning preventive programs, with the goal of finding the most efficient way to reach these population groups.
PMCID: PMC4594901  PMID: 26438040
Sexually transmitted diseases; HIV; Syphilis; Gonorrhea; Lymphogranuloma venereum; Sexual behavior; Epidemiology; Incidence
7.  Racial Mixing and HIV Risk among Men Who Have Sex with Men 
AIDS and behavior  2009;13(4):630-637.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey of MSM using a time-location-sampling design in San Francisco during 2007–2008. The investigation focused on the selection of sexual partners, partner preferences, perceptions of HIV risk, and social mixing with respect to race/ethnicity. The sample of 1,142 MSM was 56% White, 22% Latino, 14% Asian, and 9% Black and reported on 3,532 sexual partnerships. Black MSM had a significant, threefold higher level of same race sexual partnering than would be expected by chance alone (i.e., in the absence of selective forces with respect to race among partners). Black MSM were reported as the least preferred as sexual partners, believed at higher risk for HIV, counted less often among friends, were considered hardest to meet, and perceived as less welcome at the common venues that cater to gay men in San Francisco by other MSM. Our findings support the hypothesis that the sexual networks of Black MSM, constrained by the preferences and attitudes of non-Blacks and the social environment, are pushed to be more highly interconnected than other groups with the potential consequence of more rapid spread of HIV and a higher sustained prevalence of infection. The racial disparity in HIV observed for more than a decade will not disappear until the challenges posed by a legacy of racism towards Blacks in the US are addressed.
PMCID: PMC2841470  PMID: 19479369
Race/ethnicity; HIV; MSM; Disparities; Sexual mixing; Sexual networks; Social networks; Social epidemiology
8.  Estimating Populations of Men Who Have Sex with Men in the Southern United States 
Population estimates of men who have sex with men (MSM) by state and race/ethnicity are lacking, hampering effective HIV epidemic monitoring and targeting of outreach and prevention efforts. We created three models to estimate the proportion and number of adult males who are MSM in 17 southern states. Model A used state-specific census data stratified by rural/suburban/urban area and national estimates of the percentage MSM in corresponding areas. Model B used a national estimate of the percentage MSM and state-specific household census data. Model C partitioned the statewide estimates by race/ethnicity. Statewide Models A and B estimates of the percentages MSM were strongly correlated (r = 0.74; r-squared = 0.55; p < 0.001) and had similar means (5.82% and 5.88%, respectively) and medians (5.5% and 5.2%, respectively). The estimated percentage MSM in the South was 6.0% (range 3.6–13.2%; median, 5.4%). The combined estimated number of MSM was 2.4 million, including 1,656,500 (69%) whites, 339,400 (14%) blacks, 368,800 (15%) Hispanics, 34,600 (1.4%) Asian/Pacific Islanders, 7,700 (0.3%) American Indians/Alaska Natives, and 11,000 (0.5%) others. The estimates showed considerable variability in state-specific racial/ethnic percentages MSM. MSM population estimates enable better assessment of community vulnerability, HIV/AIDS surveillance, and allocation of resources. Data availability and computational ease of our models suggest other states could similarly estimate their MSM populations.
PMCID: PMC2791823  PMID: 19911282
Men who have sex with men; HIV/AIDS; Epidemic modeling; HIV/AIDS surveillance; Epidemic monitoring; Epidemic monitoring; Census
9.  Trends in chlamydia and gonorrhea positivity among heterosexual men and men who have sex with men attending a large urban sexual health service in Australia, 2002-2009 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:158.
To determine whether chlamydia positivity among heterosexual men (MSW) and chlamydia and gonorrhea positivity among men who have sex with men (MSM), are changing.
Computerized records for men attending a large sexual health clinic between 2002 and 2009 were analyzed. Chlamydia and gonorrhea positivity were calculated and logistic regression used to assess changes over time.
17769 MSW and 8328 MSM tested for chlamydia and 7133 MSM tested for gonorrhea. In MSW, 7.37% (95% CI: 6.99-7.77) were chlamydia positive; the odds of chlamydia positivity increased by 4% per year (OR = 1.04; 95% CI: 1.01-1.07; p = 0.02) after main risk factors were adjusted for. In MSM, 3.70% (95% CI: 3.30-4.14) were urethral chlamydia positive and 5.36% (95% CI: 4.82-5.96) were anal chlamydia positive; positivity could not be shown to have changed over time. In MSM, 3.05% (95% CI: 2.63-3.53) tested anal gonorrhea positive and 1.83% (95% CI: 1.53-2.18) tested pharyngeal gonorrhea positive. Univariate analysis found the odds of anal gonorrhea positivity had decreased (OR = 0.93; 95% CI: 0.87-1.00; p = 0.05), but adjusting for main risk factors resulted in no change. Urethral gonorrhea cases in MSM as a percentage of all MSM tested for gonorrhea also fell (p < 0.001).
These data suggest that chlamydia prevalence in MSW is rising and chlamydia and gonorrhea prevalence among MSM is stable or declining. High STI testing rates among MSM in Australia may explain differences in STI trends between MSM and MSW.
PMCID: PMC3138447  PMID: 21639943
Chlamydia; Gonorrhea; Men who have sex with men; Heterosexual men; Positivity
10.  Increases in sexually transmitted infections and sexual risk behaviour without a concurrent increase in HIV incidence among men who have sex with men in San Francisco: a suggestion of HIV serosorting? 
Sexually Transmitted Infections  2006;82(6):461-466.
Sexually transmitted infections (STI) and unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) have been increasing among men who have sex with men (MSM) in San Francisco. However, HIV incidence has stabilised.
To describe recent trends in sexual risk behaviour, STI, and HIV incidence among MSM in San Francisco and to assess whether increases in HIV serosorting (that is, selective unprotected sex with partners of the same HIV status) may contribute to preventing further expansion of the epidemic.
The study applies an ecological approach and follows the principles of second generation HIV surveillance. Temporal trends in biological and behavioural measures among MSM were assessed using multiple pre‐existing data sources: STI case reporting, prevention outreach programmatic data, and voluntary HIV counselling and testing data.
Reported STI cases among MSM rose from 1998 through 2004, although the rate of increase slowed between 2002 and 2004. Rectal gonorrhoea cases increased from 157 to 389 while early syphilis increased from nine to 492. UAI increased overall from 1998 to 2004 (p<0.001) in community based surveys; however, UAI with partners of unknown HIV serostatus decreased overall (p<0.001) among HIV negative MSM, and among HIV positive MSM it declined from 30.7% in 2001 to a low of 21.0% in 2004 (p<0.001). Any UAI, receptive UAI, and insertive UAI with a known HIV positive partner decreased overall from 1998 to 2004 (p<0.001) among MSM seeking anonymous HIV testing and at the STI clinic testing programme. HIV incidence using the serological testing algorithm for recent HIV seroconversion (STARHS) peaked in 1999 at 4.1% at the anonymous testing sites and 4.8% at the STI clinic voluntary testing programme, with rates levelling off through 2004.
HIV incidence among MSM appears to have stabilised at a plateau following several years of resurgence. Increases in the selection of sexual partners of concordant HIV serostatus may be contributing to the stabilisation of the epidemic. However, current incidence rates of STI and HIV remain high. Moreover, a strategy of risk reduction by HIV serosorting can be severely limited by imperfect knowledge of one's own and one's partners' serostatus.
PMCID: PMC2563862  PMID: 17151031
men who have sex with men; sexual risk behaviour; sexually transmitted infections; HIV
11.  Understanding Racial HIV/STI Disparities in Black and White Men Who Have Sex with Men: A Multilevel Approach 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90514.
The reasons for black/white disparities in HIV epidemics among men who have sex with men have puzzled researchers for decades. Understanding reasons for these disparities requires looking beyond individual-level behavioral risk to a more comprehensive framework.
Methods and Findings
From July 2010-Decemeber 2012, 803 men (454 black, 349 white) were recruited through venue-based and online sampling; consenting men were provided HIV and STI testing, completed a behavioral survey and a sex partner inventory, and provided place of residence for geocoding. HIV prevalence was higher among black (43%) versus white (13% MSM (prevalence ratio (PR) 3.3, 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.5–4.4). Among HIV-positive men, the median CD4 count was significantly lower for black (490 cells/µL) than white (577 cells/µL) MSM; there was no difference in the HIV RNA viral load by race. Black men were younger, more likely to be bisexual and unemployed, had less educational attainment, and reported fewer male sex partners, fewer unprotected anal sex partners, and less non-injection drug use. Black MSM were significantly more likely than white MSM to have rectal chlamydia and gonorrhea, were more likely to have racially concordant partnerships, more likely to have casual (one-time) partners, and less likely to discuss serostatus with partners. The census tracts where black MSM lived had higher rates of poverty and unemployment, and lower median income. They also had lower proportions of male-male households, lower male to female sex ratios, and lower HIV diagnosis rates.
Among black and white MSM in Atlanta, disparities in HIV and STI prevalence by race are comparable to those observed nationally. We identified differences between black and white MSM at the individual, dyadic/sexual network, and community levels. The reasons for black/white disparities in HIV prevalence in Atlanta are complex, and will likely require a multilevel framework to understand comprehensively.
PMCID: PMC3946498  PMID: 24608176
12.  Estimated HIV Incidence in the United States, 2006–2009 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e17502.
The estimated number of new HIV infections in the United States reflects the leading edge of the epidemic. Previously, CDC estimated HIV incidence in the United States in 2006 as 56,300 (95% CI: 48,200–64,500). We updated the 2006 estimate and calculated incidence for 2007–2009 using improved methodology.
We estimated incidence using incidence surveillance data from 16 states and 2 cities and a modification of our previously described stratified extrapolation method based on a sample survey approach with multiple imputation, stratification, and extrapolation to account for missing data and heterogeneity of HIV testing behavior among population groups.
Principal Findings
Estimated HIV incidence among persons aged 13 years and older was 48,600 (95% CI: 42,400–54,700) in 2006, 56,000 (95% CI: 49,100–62,900) in 2007, 47,800 (95% CI: 41,800–53,800) in 2008 and 48,100 (95% CI: 42,200–54,000) in 2009. From 2006 to 2009 incidence did not change significantly overall or among specific race/ethnicity or risk groups. However, there was a 21% (95% CI:1.9%–39.8%; p = 0.017) increase in incidence for people aged 13–29 years, driven by a 34% (95% CI: 8.4%–60.4%) increase in young men who have sex with men (MSM). There was a 48% increase among young black/African American MSM (12.3%–83.0%; p<0.001). Among people aged 13–29, only MSM experienced significant increases in incidence, and among 13–29 year-old MSM, incidence increased significantly among young, black/African American MSM. In 2009, MSM accounted for 61% of new infections, heterosexual contact 27%, injection drug use (IDU) 9%, and MSM/IDU 3%.
Overall, HIV incidence in the United States was relatively stable 2006–2009; however, among young MSM, particularly black/African American MSM, incidence increased. HIV continues to be a major public health burden, disproportionately affecting several populations in the United States, especially MSM and racial and ethnic minorities. Expanded, improved, and targeted prevention is necessary to reduce HIV incidence.
PMCID: PMC3149556  PMID: 21826193
13.  An Intervention to Reduce HIV Risk Behavior of Substance-Using Men Who Have Sex with Men: A Two-Group Randomized Trial with a Nonrandomized Third Group 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(8):e1000329.
In a randomized trial of a behavioral intervention among substance-using men who have sex with men, aimed at reducing sexual risk behavior, Mansergh and colleagues fail to find evidence of a reduction in risk from the intervention.
Substance use during sex is associated with sexual risk behavior among men who have sex with men (MSM), and MSM continue to be the group at highest risk for incident HIV in the United States. The objective of this study is to test the efficacy of a group-based, cognitive-behavioral intervention to reduce risk behavior of substance-using MSM, compared to a randomized attention-control group and a nonrandomized standard HIV-testing group.
Methods and Findings
Participants (n = 1,686) were enrolled in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco and randomized to a cognitive-behavioral intervention or attention-control comparison. The nonrandomized group received standard HIV counseling and testing. Intervention group participants received six 2-h group sessions focused on reducing substance use and sexual risk behavior. Attention-control group participants received six 2-h group sessions of videos and discussion of MSM community issues unrelated to substance use, sexual risk, and HIV/AIDS. All three groups received HIV counseling and testing at baseline. The sample reported high-risk behavior during the past 3 mo prior to their baseline visit: 67% reported unprotected anal sex, and 77% reported substance use during their most recent anal sex encounter with a nonprimary partner. The three groups significantly (p<0.05) reduced risk behavior (e.g., unprotected anal sex reduced by 32% at 12-mo follow-up), but were not different (p>0.05) from each other at 3-, 6-, and 12-mo follow-up. Outcomes for the 2-arm comparisons were not significantly different at 12-mo follow-up (e.g., unprotected anal sex, odds ratio = 1.14, confidence interval = 0.86–1.51), nor at earlier time points. Similar results were found for each outcome variable in both 2- and 3-arm comparisons.
These results for reducing sexual risk behavior of substance-using MSM are consistent with results of intervention trials for other populations, which collectively suggest critical challenges for the field of HIV behavioral interventions. Several mechanisms may contribute to statistically indistinguishable reductions in risk outcomes by trial group. More explicit debate is needed in the behavioral intervention field about appropriate scientific designs and methods. As HIV prevention increasingly competes for behavior-change attention alongside other “chronic” diseases and mental health issues, new approaches may better resonate with at-risk groups.
Trial Registration NCT00153361
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
AIDS first emerged in the early 1980s among gay men living in the US. As the disease spread around the world, it became clear that AIDS also affects heterosexual men and women. Now, three decades on, more than 30 million people are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV is most often spread by having unprotected sex with an infected partner and, globally, most sexual transmission of HIV now occurs during heterosexual sex. However, 5%–10% of all new HIV infections still occur in men who have sex with men (MSM, a term that encompasses gay, bisexual, transgendered, and heterosexual men who sometimes have sex with men) and, in several high-income countries, male-to-male sexual contact remains the most important HIV transmission route. In the US, for example, more than half of the approximately 50,000 people who become infected with HIV every year do so through male-to-male sexual contact.
Why Was This Study Done?
In countries where MSM are the group at highest risk of HIV infection, any intervention that reduces HIV transmission in MSM should have a major effect on the overall HIV infection rate. Among MSM, sexual behaviors that increase the risk of HIV infection (for example, not using a condom, having anal sex, having sex with a partner of unknown HIV status, and having sex with many partners) are associated with the use of alcohol and noninjection drugs (for example, inhaled amyl nitrite or poppers) during or shortly before sexual encounters. In this study (Project MIX), the researchers investigate whether a group-based behavioral intervention reduces sexual risk behavior in substance-using MSM.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers recruited substance-using MSM from four US cities who had had risky sex at least once in the past 6 months. Participants were randomized to a cognitive-behavioral intervention or to an attention-control group; a third, nonrandomized group of MSM formed a standard HIV counseling and testing only group. All the groups had HIV counseling and testing at the start of the study and completed a questionnaire about their substance use and sexual risk behavior during their most recent anal sex encounter. The cognitive-behavior group then received six weekly 2-hour group sessions focused on reducing substance use and sexual risk behavior by helping the men change their thinking (cognition) and behavior regarding sexual risk taking. The attention-control group received six group sessions about general MSM issues such as relationships, excluding discussion of substance use, and sexual risk behavior. The participants in both of these groups completed the questionnaire about their substance use and sexual risk behavior again at 3, 6, and 12 months after the group sessions; the participants in the standard HIV counseling and testing group completed the questionnaire again about 5 months after completing the first questionnaire (to control for the time taken by the other two groups to complete the intervention). At baseline, about 67% of the participants reported unprotected anal sex and 77% reported substance use during their most recent anal sex encounter with a nonprimary partner. At the 3-month follow-up, the incidence of sexual risk behavior had fallen to about 43% in all three groups; the incidence of substance use during sex had fallen to about 50%. Risk taking and substance use remained at these levels in the intervention and attention-control groups at the later follow-up time points.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that this cognitive-behavioral intervention is no better at reducing sexual risk taking among substance-using MSM than is an unrelated video-discussion group or standard HIV counseling and testing. One explanation for this negative result might be that brief counseling is especially effective with people who are ready for a change such as MSM willing to enroll in an intervention trial of this type. Alternatively, just being in the trial might have encouraged all the participants to self-report reduced risk behavior. Thus, alternative scientific designs and methods might be needed to find behavioral interventions that can effectively reduce HIV transmission among substance-using MSM and other people at high risk of HIV infection. Importantly, however, these findings raise the question of whether more extensive, multilevel interventions or broader lifestyle and positive health approaches (rather than single-level or single-subject behavioral interventions) might be needed to reduce sexual risk behavior among substance-using MSM.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Information is available from the US Department of Health and Human Services on HIV prevention programs, research, and policy
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
HIV InSite has comprehensive information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV transmission and transmission in gay men and other MSM, on substance abuse and HIV/AIDS, and on safer sex
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS nonprofit, on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV, AIDS, and men who have sex with men and on drink, drugs, and sex (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also have information for the public and for professionals about HIV/AIDS among men who have sex with men (in English and Spanish)
The US National Institute on Drug Abuse has information on HIV/AIDS and drug abuse, including a resource aimed at educating teenagers about the link between drug abuse and the spread of HIV in the US (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC2927550  PMID: 20811491
14.  Elevated Risk for HIV Infection among Men Who Have Sex with Men in Low- and Middle-Income Countries 2000–2006: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(12):e339.
Recent reports of high HIV infection rates among men who have sex with men (MSM) from Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the former Soviet Union (FSU) suggest high levels of HIV transmission among MSM in low- and middle-income countries. To investigate the global epidemic of HIV among MSM and the relationship of MSM outbreaks to general populations, we conducted a comprehensive review of HIV studies among MSM in low- and middle-income countries and performed a meta-analysis of reported MSM and reproductive-age adult HIV prevalence data.
Methods and Findings
A comprehensive review of the literature was conducted using systematic methodology. Data regarding HIV prevalence and total sample size was sequestered from each of the studies that met inclusion criteria and aggregate values for each country were calculated. Pooled odds ratio (OR) estimates were stratified by factors including HIV prevalence of the country, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)–classified level of HIV epidemic, geographic region, and whether or not injection drug users (IDUs) played a significant role in given epidemic. Pooled ORs were stratified by prevalence level; very low-prevalence countries had an overall MSM OR of 58.4 (95% CI 56.3–60.6); low-prevalence countries, 14.4 (95% CI 13.8–14.9); and medium- to high-prevalence countries, 9.6 (95% CI 9.0–10.2). Significant differences in ORs for HIV infection among MSM in were seen when comparing low- and middle-income countries; low-income countries had an OR of 7.8 (95% CI 7.2–8.4), whereas middle-income countries had an OR of 23.4 (95% CI 22.8–24.0). Stratifying the pooled ORs by whether the country had a substantial component of IDU spread resulted in an OR of 12.8 (95% CI 12.3–13.4) in countries where IDU transmission was prevalent, and 24.4 (95% CI 23.7–25.2) where it was not. By region, the OR for MSM in the Americas was 33.3 (95% CI 32.3–34.2); 18.7 (95% CI 17.7–19.7) for Asia; 3.8 (95% CI 3.3–4.3) for Africa; and 1.3 (95% CI 1.1–1.6) for the low- and middle-income countries of Europe.
MSM have a markedly greater risk of being infected with HIV compared with general population samples from low- and middle-income countries in the Americas, Asia, and Africa. ORs for HIV infection in MSM are elevated across prevalence levels by country and decrease as general population prevalence increases, but remain 9-fold higher in medium–high prevalence settings. MSM from low- and middle-income countries are in urgent need of prevention and care, and appear to be both understudied and underserved.
From a systematic review, Chris Beyrer and colleagues conclude that men who have sex with men in the Americas, Asia, and Africa have a markedly greater risk of being HIV-infected than does the general population.
Editors' Summary
AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) first emerged in the early 1980s among gay men living in New York and California. But, as the disease rapidly spread around the world, it became clear that AIDS also affected heterosexual men and women. Now, a quarter of a century later, 40 million people are infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the organism that causes AIDS. HIV is most often spread by having unprotected sex with an infected partner and in sub-Saharan Africa, the region most badly hit by HIV/AIDS, heterosexual transmission predominates. However, globally, 5%–10% of all HIV infections are thought to be in men who have sex with men (MSM, a term that encompasses gay, bisexual, transgendered, and heterosexual men who sometimes have sex with men), and in several high-income countries, including the US, male-to-male sexual contact remains the most important HIV transmission route.
Why Was This Study Done?
In the US, the MSM population is visible and there is considerable awareness about the risks of HIV transmission associated with sex between men. In many other countries, MSM are much less visible. They remain invisible because they fear discrimination, stigmatization (being considered socially unacceptable), or arrest—sex between men is illegal in 85 countries. Consequently, MSM are often under-represented in HIV surveillance systems and in prevention and care programs. If the AIDS epidemic is going to be halted, much more needs to be known about HIV prevalence (the proportion of the population that is infected) among MSM. In this study, the researchers have done a systematic review (a type of research where the results of existing studies are brought together) on published reports of HIV prevalence among MSM in low- and middle-income countries to get a better picture of the global epidemic of HIV in this population.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers found 83 published studies that reported HIV prevalence in 38 low- and middle-income countries in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Eastern Europe. When the results were pooled—in what statisticians call a meta-analysis—MSM were found to have a 19.3-times greater chance of being infected with HIV than the general population. This is described as a pooled odds ratio (OR) of 19.3. The researchers also did several subgroup analyses where they asked whether factors such as injection drug use (another risk factor for HIV transmission), per capita income, geographical region, or the HIV prevalence in the general population were associated with differential risk (increase in odds) of HIV infection compared to the general population. They found, for example, that in countries where the prevalence of HIV in the general population was very low (less than 1 adult in 1,000 infected) the pooled OR for MSM compared to the general population was 58.4; where it was high (more than 1 adult in 20 infected), the pooled OR for MSM was 9.6.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that MSM living in low- to middle-income countries have a greater risk of HIV infection than the general populations of these countries. The subgroup analyses indicate that the high HIV prevalence among MSM is not limited to any one region or income level or to countries with any specific HIV prevalence or injection drug use level. Although the small number and design of the studies included in the meta-analysis may affect the numerical accuracy of these findings, the clear trend toward a higher HIV prevalence of among MSM suggests that HIV surveillance efforts should be expanded to include MSM in those countries where they are currently ignored. Efforts should also be made to include MSM in HIV prevention programs and to improve the efficacy of these programs by investigating the cultural, behavioral, social, and public policy factors that underlie the high HIV prevalence among MSM. By increasing surveillance, research, and prevention among MSM in low- to middle-income countries, it should be possible to curb HIV transmission in this marginalized population and reduce the global burden of HIV.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The International Lesbian and Gay Association provides a world legal map on legislation affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission provides a page called Off the Map: How HIV/AIDS Programming is Failing Same-Sex Practicing People in Africa
The American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) has launched their MSM initiative, which is focused on providing support to front-line community groups working on providing services and doing research focused on HIV among MSM in lower income-settings
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
HIV InSite has comprehensive information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including a list of organizations that provide information for gay men and MSM
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on HIV, AIDS, and men who have sex with men
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on HIV/AIDS and on HIV/AIDS among men who have sex with men (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC2100144  PMID: 18052602
15.  Internet Sex Ads for MSM and Partner Selection Criteria: The Potency of Race/Ethnicity Online 
Journal of sex research  2010;47(6):528-538.
The explosive growth in Internet use by MSM to find sexual partners has been noted in the research literature. However, little attention has been given to the impact of participating in this online sexual marketplace for MSM of color, despite race/ethnicity as a frequently used selection criterion in personal ads or profiles. Six focus group discussions [n=50], and 35 in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with African American, Latino, Asian and Pacific Islander MSM in Los Angeles, which included discussion of their use of Internet sites to meet/interact with other MSM. Men reported race/ethnicity as a pervasive and powerful factor in facilitating or derailing Internet-mediated sexual encounters. The racialized interactions that MSM of color reported ranged from simple expressions of race-based preferences to blatantly discriminatory/hostile interactions and often demeaning race-based sexual objectification. Experiences of rejection and a perceived hierarchy of value in the sexual market based on race had definite costs for these MSM using these online sites. Furthermore, the private and solitary nature of seeking partners online meant that there was little to buffer the corrosive aspects of those negative experiences. These online dynamics have implications for the power balance in Internet-mediated sexual liaisons, including sexual decision-making and sexual risk.
PMCID: PMC3065858  PMID: 21322176
16.  Do Sexual Networks of Men Who Have Sex with Men in New York City Differ by Race/Ethnicity? 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2016;30(1):39-47.
The United States HIV epidemic disproportionately affects black and Hispanic men who have sex with men (MSM). This disparity might be partially explained by differences in social and sexual network structure and composition. A total of 1267 MSM in New York City completed an ACASI survey and egocentric social and sexual network inventory about their sex partners in the past 3 months, and underwent HIV testing. Social and sexual network structure and composition were compared by race/ethnicity of the egos: black, non-Hispanic (N = 365 egos), white, non-Hispanic (N = 466), and Hispanic (N = 436). 21.1% were HIV-positive by HIV testing; 17.2% reported serodiscordant and serostatus unknown unprotected anal/vaginal intercourse (SDUI) in the last 3 months. Black MSM were more likely than white and Hispanic MSM to report exclusively having partners of same race/ethnicity. Black and Hispanic MSM had more HIV-positive and unknown status partners than white MSM. White men were more likely to report overlap of social and sex partners than black and Hispanic men. No significant differences by race/ethnicity were found for network size, density, having concurrent partners, or having partners with ≥10 years age difference. Specific network composition characteristics may explain racial/ethnic disparities in HIV infection rates among MSM, including HIV status of sex partners in networks and lack of social support within sexual networks. Network structural characteristics such as size and density do not appear to have such an impact. These data add to our understanding of the complexity of social factors affecting black MSM and Hispanic MSM in the U.S.
PMCID: PMC4717505  PMID: 26745143
17.  The Complementarity and Substitution between Unconventional and Mainstream Medicine among Racial and Ethnic Groups in the United States 
Health Services Research  2007;42(2):811-826.
To describe racial and ethnic differences in the utilization patterns of 12 common types of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and mainstream medicine (MSM) and to test whether a specific CAM type is a substitute for or a complement to MSM among five racial and ethnic groups in the United States.
The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey in 1996 and 1998 were used. The sample of 46,673 respondents was stratified into non-Hispanic whites (NHW), Hispanics, blacks, Asians, and other races. Twelve types of CAM visits and visits to office-based and outpatient physicians were used to describe the pattern of CAM and MSM use. Utilization patterns among each racial and ethnic group were established and compared. Multivariate analyses were conducted to test whether each type of CAM and MSM were complements or substitutes within a racial and ethnic group, controlling for respondents' sociodemographics and health.
Significant intergroup differences in the prevalence rates of using various types of CAM were found. In particular, for some racial and ethnic groups, CAM can be either a substitute for or a complement to MSM visits, depending on the CAM type. More complementary relationships between CAM and physician visits were found in NHW and Asians than in other groups. All significant relationships between CAM types and physician visits among Hispanics and other races (predominantly Native American Indians) were substitution.
Complementarity and substitution of CAM and MSM varied by racial and ethnic groups and by type of CAM. Culturally sensitive approaches are needed in successful integration of CAM in treatment management.
PMCID: PMC1955362  PMID: 17362219
18.  Molecular analysis allows inference into HIV transmission among young men who have sex with men in the United States 
AIDS (London, England)  2015;29(18):2517-2522.
To understand the spread of HIV among and between age and racial/ethnic groups of men who engage in male-to-male sexual contact (men who have sex with men, MSM) in the United States.
Analysis of HIV-1 pol sequences for MSM collected through the U.S. National HIV Surveillance System (NHSS) during 2001–2012.
Pairwise genetic distance was calculated to determine potential transmission partners (those with very closely related nucleotide sequences, i.e., distance ≤1.5%). We described race/ethnicity and age of potential transmission partners of MSM.
Of 23,048 MSM with HIV sequences submitted to NHSS during 2000–2012, we identified potential transmission partners for 8,880 (39%). Most potential transmission partners were of the same race/ethnicity (78% for blacks/African Americans, 64% for whites, and 49% for Hispanics/Latinos). This assortative mixing was even more pronounced in the youngest age groups. Significantly fewer young black/African American and Hispanic/Latino MSM had older potential transmission partners compared with young white MSM.
Black/African American MSM, who are more profoundly affected by HIV, were more likely to have potential HIV transmission partners who were of the same race/ethnicity and similar in age, suggesting that disparities in HIV infections are in large part not due to age-disassortative relationships. Concerted efforts to increase access to pre-exposure prophylaxis, quality HIV care, and effective treatment are needed to interrupt transmission chains among young, black/African American MSM.
PMCID: PMC4862399  PMID: 26558547
HIV; homosexuality; male; transmission; African Americans; Hispanic Americans; adolescent; young adult
19.  Stress and Coping with Racism and Their Role on Sexual Risk for HIV among African American, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Latino Men Who Have Sex With Men 
Archives of sexual behavior  2014;44(2):411-420.
The deleterious effects of racism on a wide range of health outcomes, including HIV risk, is well documented among racial/ethnic minority groups in the United States. However, little is known about how men of color who have sex with men (MSM) cope with stress from racism and whether the coping strategies they employ buffer against the impact of racism on sexual risk for HIV transmission. We examined associations of stress and coping with racism with unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) in a sample of African American (n = 403), Asian/Pacific Islander (n = 393), and Latino (n = 400) MSM recruited in Los Angeles County, CA during 2008–2009. Almost two-thirds (65%) of the sample reported being stressed as a consequence of racism experienced within the gay community. Overall, 51% of the sample reported having UAI in the prior six months. After controlling for race/ethnicity, age, nativity, marital status, sexual orientation, education, HIV serostatus, and lifetime history of incarceration, the multivariate analysis found statistically significant main effects of stress from racism and avoidance coping on UAI; no statistically significant main effects of dismissal, education/confrontation, and social-support seeking were observed. None of the interactions of stress with the four coping measures were statistically significant. Although stress from racism within the gay community increased the likelihood of engaging in UAI among MSM of color, we found little evidence that coping responses to racism buffered stress from racism. Instead, avoidance coping appears to suggest an increase in UAI.
PMCID: PMC4305487  PMID: 25060122
sexual orientation; men who have sex with men; Stress; Coping; HIV risk
20.  Persistence of racial differences in attitudes toward homosexuality in the United States 
Stigma may mediate some of the observed disparity in HIV infection rates between African American and white men who have sex with men (MSM).
We used data from the General Social Survey to describe race-specific trends in the U.S. population’s attitude toward homosexuality, reporting of male same-sex sexual behavior, and behaviors that might mediate the relationship between stigma and HIV transmission among MSM.
The proportion of African Americans who indicated that homosexuality was “always wrong” was 72.3% in 2008, largely unchanged since the 1970s. In contrast, among white respondents, this figure declined from 70.8% in 1973 to 51.6% in 2008, with most change occurring since the early 1990s. Participants who knew a gay person were less likely to have negative attitudes toward homosexuality (RR=0.60, 95% CI: 0.52–0.69). Among MSM, twice as many African American MSM reported that homosexuality is “always wrong” compared to white MSM (57.1% vs. 26.8%, p=0.003). MSM with unfavorable attitudes toward homosexuality were less likely to report ever testing for HIV compared to MSM with more favorable attitudes (RR=0.50, 95% CI: 0.31–0.78).
U.S. attitudes toward homosexuality are characterized by persistent racial differences, which may help explain disparities in HIV infection rates between African American and white MSM.
PMCID: PMC2974805  PMID: 20838226
stigma; homosexuality; men who have sex with men; race; General Social Survey
21.  Methods for Recruiting Men of Color Who Have Sex with Men in Prevention-for-Positives Interventions 
Men who have sex with men (MSM), especially MSM of color, are disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS compared to heterosexuals and Caucasians. Nonetheless, fewer sexual and ethnic minorities participate in prevention interventions for people with HIV. We consider recruitment for Positive Connections, a randomized controlled trial comparing unsafe sex prevention interventions primarily for HIV-positive (HIV+) MSM in six US epicenters. One community-based organization (CBO) in each city recruited adult MSM, particularly men of color and HIV+. Recruitment methods included on-line and print advertising, outreach events, health professionals, and social networks. Data on demographics, HIV status, and recruitment method were collected at registration. We tested for differences in registration proportions and attendance rates by recruitment strategy, stratified on race/ethnicity and serostatus. Of the 1,119 registrants, 889 attended the intervention. The sample comprised 41% African American, 18% Latino/Hispanic, and 77% HIV+. Friend referral was reported by the greatest proportion of registrants, particularly among African American (33%) and HIV+ men (25%). Print advertising yielded the largest proportions of non-Hispanic white (27%) and HIV-negative registrants (25%). Registrants recruited on-line were the least likely to attend (45% versus 69% average); this effect was strongest among Latino/Hispanic (27% attendance) and non-Hispanic white men (36%). Retention during the follow-up period did not differ by serostatus, race/ ethnicity, or recruitment method. Differential attendance and retention according to recruitment strategy, serostatus, and racial/ethnic group can inform planning for intervention sample size goals.
PMCID: PMC3691812  PMID: 19731034
Recruitment; Men who have sex with men (MSM); HIV-positive; Minorities
22.  Dispersion of the HIV-1 Epidemic in Men Who Have Sex with Men in the Netherlands: A Combined Mathematical Model and Phylogenetic Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2015;12(11):e1001898.
The HIV-1 subtype B epidemic amongst men who have sex with men (MSM) is resurgent in many countries despite the widespread use of effective combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). In this combined mathematical and phylogenetic study of observational data, we aimed to find out the extent to which the resurgent epidemic is the result of newly introduced strains or of growth of already circulating strains.
Methods and Findings
As of November 2011, the ATHENA observational HIV cohort of all patients in care in the Netherlands since 1996 included HIV-1 subtype B polymerase sequences from 5,852 patients. Patients who were diagnosed between 1981 and 1995 were included in the cohort if they were still alive in 1996. The ten most similar sequences to each ATHENA sequence were selected from the Los Alamos HIV Sequence Database, and a phylogenetic tree was created of a total of 8,320 sequences. Large transmission clusters that included ≥10 ATHENA sequences were selected, with a local support value ≥ 0.9 and median pairwise patristic distance below the fifth percentile of distances in the whole tree. Time-varying reproduction numbers of the large MSM-majority clusters were estimated through mathematical modeling. We identified 106 large transmission clusters, including 3,061 (52%) ATHENA and 652 Los Alamos sequences. Half of the HIV sequences from MSM registered in the cohort in the Netherlands (2,128 of 4,288) were included in 91 large MSM-majority clusters. Strikingly, at least 54 (59%) of these 91 MSM-majority clusters were already circulating before 1996, when cART was introduced, and have persisted to the present. Overall, 1,226 (35%) of the 3,460 diagnoses among MSM since 1996 were found in these 54 long-standing clusters. The reproduction numbers of all large MSM-majority clusters were around the epidemic threshold value of one over the whole study period. A tendency towards higher numbers was visible in recent years, especially in the more recently introduced clusters. The mean age of MSM at diagnosis increased by 0.45 years/year within clusters, but new clusters appeared with lower mean age. Major strengths of this study are the high proportion of HIV-positive MSM with a sequence in this study and the combined application of phylogenetic and modeling approaches. Main limitations are the assumption that the sampled population is representative of the overall HIV-positive population and the assumption that the diagnosis interval distribution is similar between clusters.
The resurgent HIV epidemic amongst MSM in the Netherlands is driven by several large, persistent, self-sustaining, and, in many cases, growing sub-epidemics shifting towards new generations of MSM. Many of the sub-epidemics have been present since the early epidemic, to which new sub-epidemics are being added.
Daniela Bezemer and colleagues investigate the extent to which the resurgent HIV epidemic in the Netherlands is the result of newly introduced strains, or of growth of already circulating strains.
Editors' Summary
Since the first recorded case of AIDS in 1981, the number of people infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has risen steadily. Now, three and a half decades later, about 35 million people (more than half of whom are women) are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV is most often spread by having unprotected sex with an infected partner, and, globally, most sexual transmission of HIV occurs during heterosexual sex. Nevertheless, many new HIV infections still occur in men who have sex with men (MSM; homosexual, bisexual, and transgender men, and heterosexual men who sometimes have sex with men), and, in some countries, HIV/AIDS still predominantly affects the MSM community. In the US, for example, 78% of new HIV infections occurred among MSM in 2010 although MSM represent only 4% of the total population, and, in 2011, 54% of all people living with HIV were MSM. Indeed, despite HIV-positive individuals being diagnosed earlier these days and having access to effective combination antiretroviral therapy (cART), which both halts disease progression and reduces the risk of HIV transmission, the HIV epidemic among MSM is resurgent (growing again) in many Western countries.
Why Was This Study Done?
To control this resurgent epidemic, it is important to know as much as possible about HIV transmission among MSM so that effective prevention strategies can be designed. Here, the researchers use phylogenetic analysis and mathematical modeling to ask whether the introduction of new strains or the spread of already circulating strains is responsible for the resurgent HIV-1 subtype B epidemic occurring among MSM in the Netherlands. Viral phylogenetic analysis infers evolutionary relationships between viral strains by examining their genetic relatedness and can be used to identify HIV transmission clusters. HIV-1 viruses are classified into subtypes based on their genetic sequence and geographical distribution. HIV-1 subtype B is a common subtype that is found in west and central Europe, the Americas, and several other regions.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers built a phylogenetic tree for the HIV epidemic in MSM in the Netherlands by analyzing HIV-1 subtype B polymerase gene sequences found in 5,852 participants (73% of whom were MSM) in the ATHENA cohort, an observational cohort of all HIV-1-infected patients in care in the Netherlands since 1996 (when cART became available). Examination of this tree identified 106 large transmission clusters (groups of ten or more closely related subtype B HIV-1 strains). Half of the HIV-1 polymerase sequences from HIV-1-positive MSM registered in the ATHENA cohort in the Netherlands were included in 91 MSM-majority clusters: large transmission clusters in which more than half the related sequences originated from MSM. At least 54 of the MSM-majority clusters were circulating before 1996 and have persisted until the present day. Moreover, about a third of new HIV infections diagnosed among MSM since 1996 involve viruses included in these long-lived clusters. The researchers then used mathematical modeling to estimate that the effective reproduction number (the number of secondary infections per primary infection) for all the MSM-majority clusters was around one for the whole study period. Thus, these clusters were self-sustaining and not contracting. Notably, MSM-majority clusters (particularly the newer clusters) tended to have higher reproduction numbers in recent years. Moreover, although the average age at diagnosis within each of the MSM-majority clusters increased over the study period at a rate of 0.45 years/year, the average age at diagnosis was lower at initiation of new clusters and only increased by 0.28 years/year.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that several large, persistent, and self-sustaining sub-epidemics, many of which have been present since early in the AIDS epidemic, are driving the resurgent HIV epidemic among MSM in the Netherlands, despite the widespread availability of treatment, increasing rates of diagnosis, and earlier treatment initiation. Importantly, however, these findings also suggest that some sub-epidemics have emerged more recently and that some sub-epidemics, particularly the newer ones, are growing and may be preferentially affecting younger MSM. The accuracy of these findings may be limited by some aspects of the study. For example, the reproduction number estimates assume that the time from diagnosis of a case to the diagnoses of secondary cases is similar across clusters. Nevertheless, the new insights provided by this study should help guide the development of strategies to curb the resurgent HIV epidemic that is currently affecting MSM in the Netherlands and elsewhere.
Additional Information
This list of resources contains links that can be accessed when viewing the PDF on a device or via the online version of the article at
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV/AIDS among MSM (in English and Spanish)
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS and summaries of recent research findings, including information on HIV and MSM and personal stories from MSM living with HIV
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including MSM and HIV; Avert also provides personal stories about living with HIV/AIDS
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including HIV/AIDS and MSM (in several languages)
The UNAIDS Fast-Track Strategy to End the AIDS Epidemic by 2030 provides up-to-date information about the AIDS epidemic and efforts to halt it
A 2011 World Bank Report The Global HIV Epidemics among Men Who Have Sex with Men is available
A PLOS Computational Biology Topic Page (a review article that is a published copy of record of a dynamic version of an article in Wikipedia) about viral phylodynamics is available
PMCID: PMC4631366  PMID: 26529093
23.  Increasing sexually transmitted infection rates in young men having sex with men in the Netherlands, 2006–2012 
Men having sex with men (MSM) remain the largest high-risk group involved in on-going transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STI), including HIV, in the Netherlands. As risk behaviour may change with age, it is important to explore potential heterogeneity in risks by age. To improve our understanding of this epidemic, we analysed the prevalence of and risk factors for selected STI in MSM attending STI clinics in the Netherlands by age group.
Analysis of data from the national STI surveillance system for the period 2006–2012. Selected STI were chlamydia, gonorrhoea, infectious syphilis and/or a new HIV infection. Logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with these selected STI and with overall STI positivity. Analyses were done separately for MSM aged younger than 25 years and MSM aged 25 years and older.
In young MSM a significant increase in positivity rate was seen over time (p < 0.01), mainly driven by increasing gonorrhoea diagnoses, while in MSM aged 25 and older a significant decrease was observed (p < 0.01). In multivariate analyses for young MSM, those who were involved in commercial sex were at higher risk (OR: 1.5, 95% CI: 1.2-1.9). For MSM aged 25 years and older this was not the case. Having a previous negative HIV test was protective among older MSM compared to those not tested for HIV before (OR: 0.8, 95% CI: 0.8-0.8), but not among younger MSM.
MSM visiting STI clinics remain a high-risk group for STI infections and transmission, but are not a homogenous group. While in MSM aged older than 25 years, STI positivity rate is decreasing, positivity rate in young MSM increased over time. Therefore specific attention needs to be paid towards targeted counselling and reaching particular MSM sub-groups, taken into account different behavioural profiles.
PMCID: PMC4147385  PMID: 25170341
Commercial sex; Adolescents; Gay men; Epidemiology; Surveillance; Ethnicity
24.  The Effect of High Rates of Bacterial Sexually Transmitted Infections on HIV Incidence in a Cohort of Black and White Men Who Have Sex with Men in Atlanta, Georgia 
Data reporting sexually transmitted infection (STI) incidence rates among HIV-negative U.S. men who have sex with men (MSM) are lacking. In addition, it is difficult to analyze the effect of STI on HIV acquisition given that sexual risk behaviors confound the relationship between bacterial STIs and incident HIV. The InvolveMENt study was a longitudinal cohort of black and white HIV-negative, sexually active MSM in Atlanta who underwent routine screening for STI and HIV and completed behavioral questionnaires. Age-adjusted incidence rates were calculated for urethral and rectal Chlamydia (CT), gonorrhea (GC), and syphilis, stratified by race. Propensity-score-weighted Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate the effect of STI on HIV incidence and calculate the population attributable fraction (PAF) for STI. We included 562 HIV-negative MSM with 843 person-years of follow-up in this analysis. High incidence rates were documented for all STIs, particularly among black MSM. Having a rectal STI was significantly associated with subsequent HIV incidence in adjusted analyses (aHR 2.7; 95% CI 1.2, 6.4) that controlled for behavioral risk factors associated with STI and HIV using propensity score weights. The PAF for rectal STI was 14.6 (95% CI 6.8, 31.4). The high incidence of STIs among Atlanta MSM and the association of rectal STI with HIV acquisition after controlling for behavioral risk underscore the importance of routine screening and treatment for STIs among sexually active MSM. Our data support targeting intensive HIV prevention interventions, such as preexposure chemoprophylaxis (PrEP), for Atlanta MSM diagnosed with rectal STIs.
PMCID: PMC4458736  PMID: 25719950
25.  Sexual Behavior and Network Characteristics and Their Association with Bacterial Sexually Transmitted Infections among Black Men Who Have Sex with Men in the United States 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(12):e0146025.
Black men who have sex with men (MSM) have a high prevalence of bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and individual risk behavior does not fully explain the higher prevalence when compared with other MSM. Using the social-ecological framework, we evaluated individual, social and sexual network, and structural factors and their association with prevalent STIs among Black MSM.
The HIV Prevention Trials Network 061 was a multi-site cohort study designed to determine the feasibility and acceptability of a multi-component intervention for Black MSM in six US cities. Baseline assessments included demographics, risk behavior, and social and sexual network questions collected information about the size, nature and connectedness of their sexual network. Logistic regression was used to estimate the odds of having any prevalent sexually transmitted infection (gonorrhea, chlamydia, or syphilis).
A total of 1,553 Black MSM were enrolled in this study. In multivariate analysis, older age (aOR = 0.57; 95% CI 0.49–0.66, p<0.001) was associated with a lower odds of having a prevalent STI. Compared with reporting one male sexual partner, having 2–3 partners (aOR = 1.74; 95% CI 1.08–2.81, p<0.024) or more than 4 partners (aOR = 2.29; 95% CI 1.43–3.66, p<0.001) was associated with prevalent STIs. Having both Black and non-Black sexual partners (aOR = 0.67; 95% CI 0.45–0.99, p = 0.042) was the only sexual network factor associated with prevalent STIs.
Age and the number and racial composition of sexual partners were associated with prevalent STIs among Black MSM, while other sexual network factors were not. Further studies are needed to evaluate the effects of the individual, network, and structural factors on prevalent STIs among Black MSM to inform combination interventions to reduce STIs among these men.
PMCID: PMC4697821  PMID: 26720332

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