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1.  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.
Background
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.
Conclusions
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
Background
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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000444.
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)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000444
PMCID: PMC3149074  PMID: 21829329
2.  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.
SYNOPSIS
Objectives
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions.
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
3.  Bias in Online Recruitment and Retention of Racial and Ethnic Minority Men Who Have Sex With Men 
Background
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.
Objective
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.
Methods
Internet-using MSM were recruited through banner advertisements on MySpace.com 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.
Results
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).
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.2196/jmir.1797
PMCID: PMC3221372  PMID: 21571632
HIV infections/prevention and control; Internet; homosexuality male; research methodology; behavioral research
4.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104162
PMCID: PMC4151966  PMID: 25180514
5.  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.
doi:10.1007/s10461-009-9574-6
PMCID: PMC2841470  PMID: 19479369
Race/ethnicity; HIV; MSM; Disparities; Sexual mixing; Sexual networks; Social networks; Social epidemiology
6.  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.
doi:10.1007/s11524-009-9401-4
PMCID: PMC2791823  PMID: 19911282
Men who have sex with men; HIV/AIDS; Epidemic modeling; HIV/AIDS surveillance; Epidemic monitoring; Epidemic monitoring; Census
7.  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.
Background
To determine whether chlamydia positivity among heterosexual men (MSW) and chlamydia and gonorrhea positivity among men who have sex with men (MSM), are changing.
Methods
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.
Results
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).
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-158
PMCID: PMC3138447  PMID: 21639943
Chlamydia; Gonorrhea; Men who have sex with men; Heterosexual men; Positivity
8.  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.
Background
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.
Objectives
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1136/sti.2006.019950
PMCID: PMC2563862  PMID: 17151031
men who have sex with men; sexual risk behaviour; sexually transmitted infections; HIV
9.  Understanding Racial HIV/STI Disparities in Black and White Men Who Have Sex with Men: A Multilevel Approach 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90514.
Background
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090514
PMCID: PMC3946498  PMID: 24608176
10.  Estimated HIV Incidence in the United States, 2006–2009 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e17502.
Background
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.
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%.
Conclusions/Significance
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017502
PMCID: PMC3149556  PMID: 21826193
11.  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.
Background
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.
Conclusions
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
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00153361
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000329.
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)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000329
PMCID: PMC2927550  PMID: 20811491
12.  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.
Background
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.
Conclusions
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
Background.
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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040339.
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)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040339
PMCID: PMC2100144  PMID: 18052602
13.  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
14.  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.
Objectives
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1111/j.1475-6773.2006.00628.x
PMCID: PMC1955362  PMID: 17362219
15.  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.
doi:10.1007/s10508-014-0331-1
PMCID: PMC4305487  PMID: 25060122
sexual orientation; men who have sex with men; Stress; Coping; HIV risk
16.  Persistence of racial differences in attitudes toward homosexuality in the United States 
Background
Stigma may mediate some of the observed disparity in HIV infection rates between African American and white men who have sex with men (MSM).
Methods
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.
Results
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).
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1097/QAI.0b013e3181f275e0
PMCID: PMC2974805  PMID: 20838226
stigma; homosexuality; men who have sex with men; race; General Social Survey
17.  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.
doi:10.1007/s11121-009-0149-6
PMCID: PMC3691812  PMID: 19731034
Recruitment; Men who have sex with men (MSM); HIV-positive; Minorities
18.  Increasing sexually transmitted infection rates in young men having sex with men in the Netherlands, 2006–2012 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1742-7622-11-12
PMCID: PMC4147385  PMID: 25170341
Commercial sex; Adolescents; Gay men; Epidemiology; Surveillance; Ethnicity
19.  Experiences of Discrimination and Their Impact on the Mental Health among African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, and Latino Men Who Have Sex with Men 
American journal of public health  2013;103(5):868-874.
Objectives
We examined the associations between specific types and sources of discrimination and mental health outcomes among U.S. racial/ethnic minority men who have sex with men (MSM) and how these associations vary by race/ethnicity.
Methods
A chain-referral sample of 403 African American, 393 Asian and Pacific Islander (API), and 400 Latino MSM recruited in Los Angeles County, CA completed a standardized questionnaire.
Results
Past-year experiences of racism within the general community and perceived homophobia among heterosexual friends were positively associated with depression and anxiety. Past-year homophobia experienced within the general community was also positively associated with anxiety. These statistically significant associations did not vary across racial/ethnic groups. The positive association of perceived racism within the gay community with anxiety differed by race/ethnicity, and was statistically significant only for APIs. Perceived homophobia within the family was not associated with either depression or anxiety.
Conclusions
Higher levels of experiences of discrimination were associated with psychological distress among MSM of color. However, specific types and sources of discrimination were differentially linked to negative mental health outcomes among African American, API, and Latino MSM.
doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.301052
PMCID: PMC3625493  PMID: 23488483
20.  Understanding the High Prevalence of HIV and Other Sexually Transmitted Infections among Socio-Economically Vulnerable Men Who Have Sex with Men in Jamaica 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(2):e0117686.
Objectives
This study estimates HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Jamaica and explores social determinants of HIV infection among MSM.
Design
An island-wide cross-sectional survey of MSM recruited by peer referral and outreach was conducted in 2011. A structured questionnaire was administered and HIV/STI tests done. We compared three groups: MSM who accepted cash for sex within the past 3 months (MSM SW), MSM who did not accept cash for sex (MSM non-SW), and MSM with adverse life events (ever raped, jailed, homeless, victim of violence or low literacy).
Results
HIV prevalence among 449 MSM was 31.4%, MSM SW 41.1%, MSM with adverse life events 38.5%, 17 transgender MSM (52.9%), and MSM non-SW without adverse events 21.0%. HIV prevalence increased with age and number of adverse life events (test for trend P < 0.001), as did STI prevalence (P = 0.03). HIV incidence was 6.7 cases/100 person-years (95% CI: 3.74, 12.19). HIV prevalence was highest among MSM reporting high-risk sex; MSM SW who had been raped (65.0%), had a STI (61.2%) and who self identified as female (55.6%). Significant risk factors for HIV infection common to all 3 subgroups were participation in both receptive and insertive anal intercourse, high-risk sex, and history of a STI. Perception of no or little risk, always using a condom, and being bisexual were protective.
Conclusion
HIV prevalence was high among MSM SW and MSM with adverse life events. Given the characteristics of the sample, HIV prevalence among MSM in Jamaica is probably in the range of 20%. The study illustrates the importance of social vulnerability in driving the HIV epidemic. Programs to empower young MSM, reduce social vulnerability and other structural barriers including stigma and discrimination against MSM are critical to reduce HIV transmission.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0117686
PMCID: PMC4319820  PMID: 25659122
21.  Assessing the feasibility of harm reduction services for MSM: the late night breakfast buffet study 
Background
Despite the leveling off in new HIV infections among men who have sex with men (MSM) in San Francisco, new evidence suggests that many recent HIV infections are linked with the use of Methamphetamine (MA). Among anonymous HIV testers in San Francisco, HIV incidence among MA users was 6.3% compared to 2.1% among non-MA users. Of particular concern for prevention programs are frequent users and HIV positive men who use MA. These MSM pose a particular challenge to HIV prevention efforts due to the need to reach them during very late night hours.
Methods
The purpose of the Late Night Breakfast Buffet (LNBB) was to determine the feasibility and uptake of harm reduction services by a late night population of MSM. The "buffet" of services included: needle exchange, harm reduction information, oral HIV testing, and urine based sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing accompanied by counseling and consent procedures. The study had two components: harm reduction outreach and a behavioral survey. For 4 months during 2004, we provided van-based harm reduction services in three neighborhoods in San Francisco from 1 – 5 a.m. for anyone out late at night. We also administered a behavioral risk and service utilization survey among MSM.
Results
We exchanged 2000 needles in 233 needle exchange visits, distributed 4500 condoms/lubricants and provided 21 HIV tests and 12 STI tests. Fifty-five MSM enrolled in the study component. The study population of MSM was characterized by low levels of income and education whose ages ranged from 18 – 55. Seventy-eight percent used MA in the last 3 months; almost 25% used MA every day in the same time frame. Of the 65% who ever injected, 97% injected MA and 13% injected it several times a day. MA and alcohol were strong influences in the majority of unprotected sexual encounters among both HIV negative and HIV positive MSM.
Conclusion
We reached a disenfranchised population of MA-using MSM who are at risk for acquiring or transmitting HIV infection through multiple high risk behaviors, and we established the feasibility and acceptability of late night harm reduction for MSM and MSM who inject drugs.
doi:10.1186/1477-7517-3-29
PMCID: PMC1609109  PMID: 17018154
22.  Social Network Characteristics and HIV Risk among African American, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Latino Men Who Have Sex with Men 
Journal of acquired immune deficiency syndromes (1999)  2013;64(5):10.1097/QAI.0b013e3182a7ee52.
Objectives
To examine how social networks influence HIV risk among U.S. racial/ethnic minority men who have sex with men (MSM) and whether the associations of social network characteristics with risk vary by race/ethnicity.
Methods
A chain-referral sample of 403 African American, 393 Asian/Pacific Islander, and 400 Latino MSM recruited in Los Angeles County, CA completed a questionnaire, which asked about their egocentric social networks, safer sex peer norms, and male anal intercourse partners. HIV-nonconcordant partnerships were those reported by respondents as serodisconcordant or where self and/or partner serostatus was unknown.
Results
Overall, 26% of the sample reported HIV-nonconcordant unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) with a non-primary male partner in the prior six months. In a GEE logistic model that controlled for race/ethnicity, age, nativity, incarceration history, and HIV status, being in a more dense network was associated with less HIV-nonconcordant UAI (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=0.92, 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.86–0.99, p=0.0467). In addition, the effect of safer sex peer norms on HIV-nonconcordant UAI was moderated by ego-alter closeness (p=0.0021). Safer sex peer norms were protective among those reporting “medium” or “high” ego-alter closeness (AOR=0.70, 95% CI=0.52–0.95, p=0.0213 and AOR=0.48, 95% CI=0.35–0.66, p<0.0001, respectively), but not among those reporting “low” ego-alter closeness (AOR=0.96, 95% CI=0.63–1.46, p=0.8333). The effects of density, closeness, and norms on HIV-nonconcordant UAI did not differ by race/ethnicity.
Conclusions
The significant association of social network characteristics with UAI point to network-level factors as important loci for both ongoing research and HIV prevention interventions among U.S. MSM of color.
doi:10.1097/QAI.0b013e3182a7ee52
PMCID: PMC3830654  PMID: 23933767
Social networks; HIV risk; men who have sex with men; African American; Asian and Pacific Islander; Latino
23.  Episodic Sexual Transmission of HIV Revealed by Molecular Phylodynamics 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(3):e50.
Background
The structure of sexual contact networks plays a key role in the epidemiology of sexually transmitted infections, and their reconstruction from interview data has provided valuable insights into the spread of infection. For HIV, the long period of infectivity has made the interpretation of contact networks more difficult, and major discrepancies have been observed between the contact network and the transmission network revealed by viral phylogenetics. The high rate of HIV evolution in principle allows for detailed reconstruction of links between virus from different individuals, but often sampling has been too sparse to describe the structure of the transmission network. The aim of this study was to analyze a high-density sample of an HIV-infected population using recently developed techniques in phylogenetics to infer the short-term dynamics of the epidemic among men who have sex with men (MSM).
Methods and Findings
Sequences of the protease and reverse transcriptase coding regions from 2,126 patients, predominantly MSM, from London were compared: 402 of these showed a close match to at least one other subtype B sequence. Nine large clusters were identified on the basis of genetic distance; all were confirmed by Bayesian Monte Carlo Markov chain (MCMC) phylogenetic analysis. Overall, 25% of individuals with a close match with one sequence are linked to 10 or more others. Dated phylogenies of the clusters using a relaxed clock indicated that 65% of the transmissions within clusters took place between 1995 and 2000, and 25% occurred within 6 mo after infection. The likelihood that not all members of the clusters have been identified renders the latter observation conservative.
Conclusions
Reconstruction of the HIV transmission network using a dated phylogeny approach has revealed the HIV epidemic among MSM in London to have been episodic, with evidence of multiple clusters of transmissions dating to the late 1990s, a period when HIV prevalence is known to have doubled in this population. The quantitative description of the transmission dynamics among MSM will be important for parameterization of epidemiological models and in designing intervention strategies.
Using viral genotype data from HIV drug resistance testing at a London clinic, Andrew Leigh Brown and colleagues derive the structure of the transmission network through phylogenetic analysis.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), is mainly spread through unprotected sex with an infected partner. Like other sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS spreads through networks of sexual contacts. The characteristics of these complex networks (which include people who have serial sexual relationships with single partners and people who have concurrent sexual relationships with several partners) affect how quickly diseases spread in the short term and how common the disease is in the long term. For many sexually transmitted diseases, sexual contact networks can be reconstructed from interview data. The information gained in this way can be used for partner notification so that transmitters of the disease and people who may have been unknowingly infected can be identified, treated, and advised about disease prevention. It can also be used to develop effective community-based prevention strategies.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although sexual contact networks have provided valuable information about the spread of many sexually transmitted diseases, they cannot easily be used to understand HIV transmission patterns. This is because the period of infectivity with HIV is long and the risk of infection from a single sexual contact with an infected person is low. Another way to understand the spread of HIV is through phylogenetics, which examines the genetic relatedness of viruses obtained from different individuals. Frequent small changes in the genetic blueprint of HIV allow the virus to avoid the human immune response and to become resistant to antiretroviral drugs. In this study, the researchers use recently developed analytical methods, viral sequences from a large proportion of a specific HIV-infected population, and information on when each sample was taken, to learn about transmission of HIV/AIDS in London among men who have sex with men (MSM; a term that encompasses gay, bisexual, and transgendered men and heterosexual men who sometimes have sex with men). This new approach, which combines information on viral genetic variation and viral population dynamics, is called “molecular phylodynamics.”
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers compared the sequences of the genes encoding the HIV-1 protease and reverse transcriptase from more than 2,000 patients, mainly MSM, attending a large London HIV clinic between 1997 and 2003. 402 of these sequences closely matched at least one other subtype B sequence (the HIV/AIDS epidemic among MSM in the UK primarily involves HIV subtype B). Further analysis showed that the patients from whom this subset of sequences came formed six clusters of ten or more individuals, as well as many smaller clusters, based on the genetic relatedness of their HIV viruses. The researchers then used information on the date when each sample was collected and a “relaxed clock” approach (which accounts for the possibility that different sequences evolve at different rates) to determine dated phylogenies (patterns of genetic relatedness that indicate when gene sequences change) for the clusters. These phylogenies indicated that at least in one in four transmissions between the individuals in the large clusters occurred within 6 months of infection, and that most of the transmissions within each cluster occurred over periods of 3–4 years during the late 1990s.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This phylodynamic reconstruction of the HIV transmission network among MSM in a London clinic indicates that the HIV epidemic in this population has been episodic with multiple clusters of transmission occurring during the late 1990s, a time when the number of HIV infections in this population doubled. It also suggests that transmission of the virus during the early stages of HIV infection is likely to be an important driver of the epidemic. Whether these results apply more generally to the MSM population at risk for transmitting or acquiring HIV depends on whether the patients in this study are representative of that group. Additional studies are needed to determine this, but if the patterns revealed here are generalizable, then this quantitative description of HIV transmission dynamics should help in the design of strategies to strengthen HIV prevention among MSM.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050050.
Read a related PLoS Medicine Perspective article
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
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on HIV/AIDS and on HIV/AIDS among MSM (in English and Spanish)
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on HIV, AIDS, and men who have sex with men
The Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (University of California, San Francisco) provides information on sexual networks and HIV prevention
The US National Center for Biotechnology Information provides a science primer on molecular phylogenetics
UK Collaborative Group on HIV Drug Resistance maintains a database of resistance tests
HIV i-Base offers HIV treatment information for health-care professionals and HIV-positive people
The NIH-funded HIV Sequence Database contains data on genetic sequences, resistance, immunology, and vaccine trials
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050050
PMCID: PMC2267814  PMID: 18351795
24.  The Comparability of Men Who Have Sex With Men Recruited From Venue-Time-Space Sampling and Facebook: A Cohort Study 
JMIR Research Protocols  2014;3(3):e37.
Background
Recruiting valid samples of men who have sex with men (MSM) is a key component of the US human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) surveillance and of research studies seeking to improve HIV prevention for MSM. Social media, such as Facebook, may present an opportunity to reach broad samples of MSM, but the extent to which those samples are comparable with men recruited from venue-based, time-space sampling (VBTS) is unknown.
Objective
The objective of this study was to assess the comparability of MSM recruited via VBTS and Facebook.
Methods
HIV-negative and HIV-positive black and white MSM were recruited from June 2010 to December 2012 using VBTS and Facebook in Atlanta, GA. We compared the self-reported venue attendance, demographic characteristics, sexual and risk behaviors, history of HIV-testing, and HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevalence between Facebook- and VTBS-recruited MSM overall and by race. Multivariate logistic and negative binomial models estimated age/race adjusted ratios. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to assess 24-month retention.
Results
We recruited 803 MSM, of whom 110 (34/110, 30.9% black MSM, 76/110, 69.1% white MSM) were recruited via Facebook and 693 (420/693, 60.6% black MSM, 273/693, 39.4% white MSM) were recruited through VTBS. Facebook recruits had high rates of venue attendance in the previous month (26/34, 77% among black and 71/76, 93% among white MSM; between-race P=.01). MSM recruited on Facebook were generally older, with significant age differences among black MSM (P=.02), but not white MSM (P=.14). In adjusted multivariate models, VBTS-recruited MSM had fewer total partners (risk ratio [RR]=0.78, 95% CI 0.64-0.95; P=.01) and unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) partners (RR=0.54, 95% CI 0.40-0.72; P<.001) in the previous 12 months. No significant differences were observed in HIV testing or HIV/STI prevalence. Retention to the 24-month visit varied from 81% for black and 70% for white MSM recruited via Facebook, to 77% for black and 78% for white MSM recruited at venues. There was no statistically significant differences in retention between the four groups (log-rank P=.64).
Conclusions
VBTS and Facebook recruitment methods yielded similar samples of MSM in terms of HIV-testing patterns, and prevalence of HIV/STI, with no differences in study retention. Most Facebook-recruited men also attended venues where VTBS recruitment was conducted. Surveillance and research studies may recruit via Facebook with little evidence of bias, relative to VBTS.
doi:10.2196/resprot.3342
PMCID: PMC4129125  PMID: 25048694
men who have sex with men, MSM; Facebook; venue-based time sampling; online MSM; social media recruitment of MSM
25.  “Boys Must be Men, and Men Must Have Sex with Women”: A Qualitative CBPR Study to Explore Sexual Risk among African American, Latino, and White Gay Men and MSM 
American Journal of Men's Health  2010;5(2):140-151.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) continue to be disproportionately impacted by HIV and sexually transmitted diseases (STD). This study was designed to explore sexual risk among MSM using community-based participatory research (CBPR). An academic-community partnership conducted nine focus groups with 88 MSM. Participants self-identified as African American/Black (n=28), Hispanic/Latino (n=33), white (n=21), and bi-racial/ethnic (n=6). Mean age was 27 (range 18–60) years. Grounded theory was used. Twelve themes related to HIV risk emerged, including low HIV and STD knowledge particularly among Latino MSM and MSM who use the Internet for sexual networking; stereotyping of African American MSM as sexually “dominant” and Latino MSM as less likely to be HIV infected; and the eroticization of “barebacking.” Twelve intervention approaches also were identified, including developing culturally congruent programming using community-identified assets; harnessing social media used by informal networks of MSM; and promoting protection within the context of intimate relationships. A community forum was held to develop recommendations and move these themes to action.
doi:10.1177/1557988310366298
PMCID: PMC3299539  PMID: 20413391

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