Men who have sex with men (MSM) have higher rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI) than women and heterosexual men. This elevated risk persists across age groups and reflects biological and behavioral factors, yet there have been few direct comparisons of sexual behavior patterns between these populations.
We compared sexual behavior patterns of MSM and male and female heterosexuals aged 18–39 using 4 population-based random digit dialing surveys. A 1996–1998 survey in 4 U.S. cities and 2 Seattle surveys (2003, 2006) provided estimates for MSM; a 2003–2004 Seattle survey provided data about heterosexual men and women.
Sexual debut occurred earlier among MSM than heterosexuals. MSM reported longer cumulative lifetime periods of new partner acquisition than heterosexuals, and a more gradual decline in new partnership formation with age. Among MSM, 86% of 18–24 year olds and 72% of 35–39 year olds formed a new partnership during the prior year, compared to 56% of heterosexual men and 34% of women at ages 18–24, and 21% and 10%, respectively, at ages 35–39. MSM were also more likely to choose partners >5 years older and were 2–3 times as likely as heterosexuals to report recent concurrent partnerships. MSM reported more consistent condom use during anal sex than heterosexuals reported during vaginal sex.
MSM have longer periods of partnership acquisition, a higher prevalence of partnership concurrency, and more age-disassortative mixing than heterosexuals. These factors likely help explain higher HIV/STI rates among MSM, despite higher levels of condom use.
men who have sex with men; heterosexuals; sexual behavior; HIV; STI
Men who have sex with men (MSM), particularly black MSM, are disproportionally infected with HIV. Little is known about how discussion of HIV status between partners varies among MSM by race/ethnicity, and by HIV transmission risk. Among a national survey of 2,031 MSM reporting 5,410 partnerships, black MSM, especially black HIV-positive MSM, serodiscussed with UAI partners less than did white MSM. Although non-black HIV-positive, non-black HIV-negative MSM, and black HIV-negative MSM were more likely to report serodiscussion with UAI partners, black HIV-positive MSM were not. Differential serodiscussion may play a role in explaining the racial/ethnic disparity in HIV incidence.
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.
men who have sex with men; sexual risk behaviour; sexually transmitted infections; HIV
The dual risks of male-to-male sex and drug injection have put men who have sex with men and inject drugs (MSM-IDU) at the forefront of the HIV epidemic, with the highest rates of infection among any risk group in the United States. This study analyzes data collected from 357 MSM-IDU in San Francisco between 1998 and 2002 to examine how risk behaviors differ by HIV serostatus and self-identified sexual orientation and to assess medical and social service utilization among HIV-positive MSM-IDU. Twenty-eight percent of the sample tested HIV antibody positive. There was little difference in risk behaviors between HIV-negative and HIV-positive MSM-IDU. Thirty percent of HIV-positive MSM-IDU reported distributive syringe sharing, compared to 40% of HIV negatives. Among MSM-IDU who reported anal intercourse in past 6 months, 70% of positives and 66% of HIV negatives reported unprotected anal intercourse. HIV status varied greatly by self-identified sexual orientation: 46% among gay, 24% among bisexual, and 14% among heterosexual MSM-IDU. Heterosexual MSM-IDU were more likely than other MSM-IDU to be homeless and to trade sex for money or drugs. Gay MSM-IDU were more likely to have anal intercourse. Bisexual MSM-IDU were as likely as heterosexual MSM-IDU to have sex with women and as likely as gay-identified MSM-IDU to have anal intercourse. Among MSM-IDU who were HIV positive, 15% were currently on antiretroviral therapy and 18% were currently in drug treatment, and 87% reported using a syringe exchange program in the past 6 months. These findings have implications for the development of HIV interventions that target the diverse MSM-IDU population.
MSM; Injection drug user; Methamphetamine; HIV; Epidemiology; MSM-IDU; Sexual risk
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.
Race/ethnicity; HIV; MSM; Disparities; Sexual mixing; Sexual networks; Social networks; Social epidemiology
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.
To assess the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), frequency of sexual risk behaviors, and relationship between knowledge of HIV infection status and sexual risk behavior among HIV-infected men who have sex with men (MSM) attending an STI clinic in Peru.
We recruited a convenience sample of 559 MSM from a municipal STI clinic in Lima, Peru. Participants completed a survey and provided blood for HIV, Syphilis, and HSV-2 antibody testing, and urine for gonorrhea and chlamydia nucleic acid testing.
Among 124 HIV-infected MSM, 72.6% were aware of their HIV-infected status. Active syphilis (RPR≥1:8) was diagnosed in 21.0% of HIV-infected participants, HSV-2 in 79.8%, urethral gonorrhea in 1.6%, and chlamydia in 1.6%. Among 41 participants reporting insertive anal intercourse with their last sex partner, 34.2% did not use a condom. Of 86 participants reporting receptive anal intercourse, 25.6% did not use a condom. At least one episode of insertive unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) with an HIV-uninfected partner during the previous six months was reported by 33.6% (35/104) of participants, and receptive UAI with an HIV-uninfected partner by 44.6% (45/101). No difference in frequency of UAI, with HIV-uninfected or HIV-infected partners, was observed between men who knew their serostatus compared with those who were previously undiagnosed (all p-values >0.05).
HIV-infected MSM in Peru engaged in high-risk behaviors for spreading HIV and STIs. Knowledge of HIV-infected status was not associated with a decreased frequency of unprotected anal intercourse. Additional efforts to reduce risk behavior after the diagnosis of HIV infection are necessary.
MSM; Peru; HIV; Secondary prevention; Prevention for positives
Objectives: To examine trends in rates of diagnoses of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in men who have sex with men (MSM) in England and Wales between 1997 and 2002.
Methods: Estimates of the MSM population living in England and Wales, London and the rest of England and Wales were applied to surveillance data, providing rates of diagnoses of HIV and STIs and age group specific rates for HIV and uncomplicated gonorrhoea.
Results: Between 1997 and 2002, rates of diagnoses of HIV and acute STIs in MSM increased substantially. Rates in London were higher than elsewhere. Rises in acute STIs were similar throughout England and Wales, except for uncomplicated gonorrhoea and infectious syphilis, with greater increases outside London. Rates of gonorrhoea diagnoses doubled between 1999 and 2001 (661/100 000, 1271/100 000, p<0.001) in England and Wales followed by a slight decline to 1210/100 000 (p = 0.03) in 2002—primarily the result of a decline in diagnoses among men aged 25–34 (1340/100 000, 1128/100 000, p<0.001) and 35–44 (924/100 000, 863/100 000, p = 0.03) in London. HIV was the third most common STI diagnosed in MSM in England and Wales and the second in London, with the highest rate (1286/100 000) found among men aged 35–44 in London in 2002.
Conclusions: Rates of diagnosis of HIV and other STIs have increased substantially among MSM in England and Wales. Increases show heterogeneity by infection, geography, and age over time. Rates in London were twice those seen elsewhere, with greatest changes over time. The observed changes reflect concomitant increases in high risk behaviour documented in behavioural surveillance survey programmes.
Uganda's generalized HIV epidemic is well described, including an estimated adult male HIV prevalence in Kampala of 4.5%, but no data are available on the prevalence of and risk factors for HIV infection among men who have sex with men (MSM).
From May 2008 to February 2009, we used respondent-driven sampling to recruit MSM ≥18 years old in Kampala who reported anal sex with another man in the previous three months. We collected demographic and HIV-related behavioral data through audio computer-assisted self-administered interviews. Laboratory testing included biomarkers for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. We obtained population estimates adjusted for the non-random sampling frame using RDSAT and STATA. 300 MSM were surveyed over 11 waves; median age was 25 years (interquartile range, 21–29 years). Overall HIV prevalence was 13.7% (95% confidence interval [CI] 7.9%–20.1%), and was higher among MSM ≥25 years (22.4%) than among MSM aged 18–24 years (3.9%, odds ratio [OR] 5.69, 95% CI 2.02–16.02). In multivariate analysis, MSM ≥25 years (adjusted OR [aOR] 4.32, 95% CI 1.33–13.98) and those reporting ever having been exposed to homophobic abuse (verbal, moral, sexual, or physical abuse; aOR 5.38, 95% CI 1.95–14.79) were significantly more likely to be HIV infected.
MSM in Kampala are at substantially higher risk for HIV than the general adult male population. MSM reporting a lifetime history of homophobic abuse are at increased risk of being HIV infected. Legal challenges and stigma must be overcome to provide access to tailored HIV prevention and care services.
To describe sociodemographics, sexual risk behavior, and estimate HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevalence among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Mumbai, India.
Eight hundred thirty-one MSM attending voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) services at the Humsafar Trust, answered a behavioral questionnaire and consented for Venereal Disease Research Laboratory and HIV testing from January 2003 through December 2004. Multivariate logistic regression was performed for sociodemographics, sexual risk behavior, and STIs with HIV result as an outcome.
HIV prevalence among MSM was 12.5%. MSM who were illiterate [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 2.28; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.08 to 4.84], married (AOR 2.70; 95% CI: 1,56 to 4.76), preferred male partners (AOR 4.68; 95% CI: 1.90 to 11.51), had partners of both genders (AOR 2.73; 95% CI: 1.03 to 7.23), presented with an STI (AOR 3.31; 95% CI: 1.96 to 5.61); or presented with a reactive venereal disease research laboratory test (AOR 4.92; 95% CI: 2.55 to 9.53) at their VCT visit were more likely to be HIV infected.
MSM accessing VCT services in Mumbai have a high risk of STI and HIV acquisition. Culturally appropriate interventions that focus on sexual risk behavior and promote condom use among MSM, particularly the bridge population of bisexual men, are needed to slow the urban Indian AIDS epidemic.
bisexual; homosexual; India; men who have sex with men; Mumbai; voluntary counseling and testing
Many men who have sex with men (MSM) are among those who increasingly use the internet to find sexual partners. Few studies have compared behavior by race/ethnicity in internet-based samples of MSM. We examined the association of race/ethnicity with HIV risk-related behavior among 10,979 Hispanic, black, and white MSM recruited online. Significant variations by race/ethnicity were found in: age, income level, sexual orientation, number of lifetime male and female sexual partners, and rates of unprotected anal intercourse (UAI). Black and Hispanic men were more likely to report anal intercourse during the last sexual encounter, but white men were more likely to report UAI. In multivariate analysis, UAI was associated with HIV infection and sex with a main partner. Significant risk behavior variations by race/ethnicity were found. Research is needed to better target online interventions to MSM who engage in UAI or have other risk factors for transmitting or acquiring HIV.
HIV; Men who have sex with men; Sexual behavior; Race; Ethnicity; Internet
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.
There is evidence that methamphetamine and sildenafil (Viagra) use are associated with sexual risk behaviour among men who have sex with men (MSM). We investigated the association of methamphetamine, sildenafil, and other substance use with unprotected receptive and insertive anal sex among MSM by conducting an encounter specific analysis.
Data were from a cross sectional, community based survey of MSM in San Francisco regarding behaviour during their most recent anal sex encounter. Mulitvariate regression analysed independent associations of specific substance use and demographic variables with unprotected anal sex behaviours.
The sample (n = 388) was diverse in race/ethnicity, age, income, education, HIV status, and homosexual/bisexual identification. More than half (53%) reported unprotected anal sex, including insertive (29%) and receptive (37%) during their most recent anal sex encounter; 12% reported unprotected insertive and 17% reported unprotected receptive anal sex with an HIV discordant or unknown partner. Methamphetamine was used by 15% and sildenafil was used by 6% of the men before or during the encounter; 2% used both drugs. In multivariate analysis controlling for demographic factors and other substance use, methamphetamine use was associated with unprotected receptive (odds ratio (OR), 2.03; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.09 to 3.76) and sildenafil use was associated with unprotected insertive (OR, 6.51; CI, 2.46 to 17.24) anal sex. Effects were stronger with HIV discordant or unknown sex partners specifically.
Encounter specific associations of methamphetamine and sildenafil use with unprotected receptive and insertive anal sex, respectively, indicate the importance of assessment specificity and tailoring risk reduction efforts to address certain drugs and sexual behavioural roles among MSM.
MSM; sexual risk; sildenafil; Viagra; methamphetamine
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have increased among men who have sex with men (MSM) and are associated with unsafe sex practices, intrinsic morbidity, and enhanced genital shedding and transmission of HIV. Screening for asymptomatic STIs is recommended as part of the HIV prevention efforts, however, optimal screening strategies among HIV-infected MSM have not been well defined. In this study, conducted from April 2004 to September 2006, 212 HIV-infected MSM from two urban HIV clinics were screened for asymptomatic STIs. Testing for Neisseria gonorrhea and Chlamydia trachomatis from pharynx, rectum, and urine, as well as serologic testing for syphilis were performed initially, and then after 6 and 12 months. A self-administered questionnaire was used to assess possible predictors of incident asymptomatic STIs. A cost analysis was performed to assess different screening strategies for detecting incident STIs. The baseline prevalence of STIs was 14% (n = 29; 95% confidence interval [CI] 9%–19%) and the incidence of new infections was 20.8 cases per 100 person years (95% CI 14.8–28.4 cases per 100 person years). Younger age, higher CD4 cell count, and marijuana use were associated with increased risk of acquiring an asymptomatic STI. The laboratory cost to detect one positive STI did not significantly differ between once- and twice-yearly screening. However, almost half of all incident STIs were detected at the 6-month screening visit, potentially resulting in an increased duration of infectivity if these cases remained undiagnosed. In conclusion, prevalent and incident asymptomatic STIs are common among HIV-infected MSM. Our data support current Center for Disease Control and Prevention STI guidelines that recommend routine screening at increased frequency for HIV-infected MSM.
In the U.S., incidence of HIV infection among men who have sex with men (MSM) has steadily increased since the 1990s. This points to a need for innovation to address both emerging trends as well as longer-standing disparities in HIV risk and transmission among MSM, such as the elevated rates of HIV/STIs among African American MSM and methamphetamine users. While couple-based sexual risk reduction interventions are a promising avenue to reduce HIV/STI transmission, prior research has been almost exclusively with heterosexual couples. We sought to adapt an existing, evidence-based intervention—originally developed and tested with heterosexual couples—for a new target population consisting of African American MSM in a longer-term same-sex relationship where at least one partner uses methamphetamine. The adaptation process primarily drew from data obtained from a series of focus groups with 8 couples from the target population. Attention is given to the methods used to overcome challenges faced in this adaptation process: limited time, a lead investigator who is phenotypically different from the target population, a dearth of descriptive information on the experiences and worldviews among the target population, and a concomitant lack of topical experts. We also describe a visualization tool used to ensure that the adaptation process promotes and maintains adherence to the theory that guides the intervention and behavior change. The process culminated with an intervention adapted for the new target population as well as preliminary indications that a couple-based sexual-risk reduction intervention for African American, methamphetamine-involved male couples is feasible and attractive.
HIV; prevention; adaptation; men who have sex with men; African American; methamphetamine; couples.
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.
Measuring prevalence and incidence of sexually transmitted infections in hard to reach populations like men who have sex with men (MSM) is hampered by unknown size and regional distribution of this population. Community sample – and study-based measurements are often fraught with participation biases and do not allow generalization of the results for other regions or the whole population group of MSM.
We used the proportional regional distribution of participants of large internet-based surveys among MSM from Germany together with a general population survey-derived estimate of the MSM population to estimate regional population sizes. Based on transmission group category from surveillance data and regional MSM population size we calculated regional population-specific incidence rates of newly diagnosed HIV infection and syphilis. For HIV prevalence we compared estimates of prevalent HIV infections in MSM from a surveillance data-based model with a mixed model in which we used the proportional regional distribution of HIV positive participants from surveys and the estimated total number of prevalent HIV infections from the surveillance based model.
Assuming a similar regional distribution of survey participants and the MSM population as a whole, the regional proportion of MSM in the general population can be estimated. Regional incidence calculated with the estimated MSM population as denominator and national surveillance data as numerator results in regional peak incidence rates of 7–8 per 1,000 MSM for newly diagnosed HIV infection and syphilis. The gradient between metropolitan and rural areas narrows considerably compared with calculations which use the total (male) population as denominator. Regional HIV prevalence estimates are comparable in the two models.
Considering the difficulties to obtain regionally representative data by other sampling methods for MSM, in Western post-industrialized countries internet-based surveys may provide an easy and low cost tool to estimate regional population distributions. With national surveillance data, which categorize transmission groups, regional population-specific incidence rates for reportable sexually transmitted infections can be estimated. HIV prevalence estimates for regional MSM populations show differences related to the level of urbanization, MSM concentration, and starting points of the HIV epidemic in western and eastern Germany.
Objective: To assess the impact of the sexual component of AIDS and HIV campaigns on transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Design: Comparison of time series data.
Setting: England, 1971–1999.
Outcome measures: HIV transmission and diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSMs), rates of attendances and specific STI diagnoses (per 100 000 total population) at genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics.
Results: Awareness of AIDS and campaigns in 1983–4 among homosexual men coincided with substantial declines in transmission of HIV and diagnoses of syphilis among MSMs. During general population campaigns in 1986-7 new GUM clinic attendances requiring treatment fell by 117/105 in men and 42/105 in women. Rates for gonorrhoea fell by 81/105 and 43/105 and genital herpes by 6/105 and 4/105, respectively. Previous rises in genital wart rates were interrupted, while rates of attendances not requiring treatment (the "worried well") increased by 47/105 and 58/105 for men and women, respectively. Since 1987 diagnoses of HIV among MSMs have not declined, averaging 1300–1400 annually. Following a period of unchanging rates there have been substantial increases in GUM attendances requiring treatment, notably for gonorrhoea, syphilis, and viral STIs since 1995.
Conclusions: Self help initiatives and awareness among homosexual men in 1983–4 contributed significantly to a fall in HIV transmission among MSMs, and the general campaigns of 1986–7 were associated with similar effects on all STI transmission. Both effects seem to have occurred through changing sexual behaviour, and probably contributed to the UK's low national HIV prevalence. Bacterial STI incidence has increased significantly since 1995 and there is no evidence that recent prevention initiatives have reduced HIV transmission among MSMs, hence sexual health initiatives need to be comprehensively reinvigorated in England.
Key Words: HIV; gonorrhoea; syphilis; interventions; health promotion; homosexual males; heterosexuals; England
Men who have sex with men (MSM) are the largest HIV risk-group in the United States. Sexual concurrency may contribute to high HIV incidence, or to racial/ethnic HIV disparities among MSM. Limited information is available on concurrency and racial/ethnic differences among MSM, or on the extent to which MSM engage in concurrent unprotected anal intercourse (UAI).
Data are from baseline responses in a prospective online study of MSM aged ≥ 18 years, having ≥ 1 male sex partner in the past 12 months, and recruited from social networking websites. Pair-wise sexual concurrency and UAI in the previous 6 months among up to 5 recent partners was measured, using an interactive questionnaire. Period prevalences of concurrency and concurrent UAI were computed and compared across racial/ethnic groups at the individual and triad (a respondent and 2 sex partners) levels.
2,940 MSM reported on 8,911 partnerships; 45% indicated concurrent partnerships and 16% indicated concurrent UAI in the previous 6 months. Respondents were more likely to have UAI with two partners when they were concurrent, compared to serially monogamous (OR [95% CI] = 1.93 [1.75, 2.14]). No significant differences in levels of individual concurrency or concurrency among triads were found between non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic men.
Concurrency and concurrent UAI in the previous 6 months was common. Although there were no differences by race/ethnicity, the high levels of concurrency and concurrent UAI may be catalyzing the transmission of HIV among MSM in general.
Concurrency; MSM; sexual networks; UAI; racial disparities
Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is an important re-emerging sexually transmitted infection which is reported to affect particularly HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM). The aim of this study is to quantify the association between LGV and HIV in the context of the current emergence of LGV.
A systematic review was performed on the emergence of LGV among MSM since 2000. We report the prevalence of HIV infection from descriptive studies of MSM with LGV, and conduct a meta-analysis to produce a summary estimate of the association between LGV and HIV from case-control studies where cases were MSM with LGV and controls were MSM with rectal chlamydia caused by non-LGV serovars.
The prevalence of HIV among LGV cases ranges from 67% to 100% in 13 descriptive studies. There is a significant association between HIV and LGV (odds ratio 8.19, 95% CI 4.68-14.33).
HIV-positive MSM are disproportionately affected by LGV highlighting the importance of prevention efforts to be targeted to this group. Further research is needed to determine whether the association is due to biological or behavioural factors.
In the Andean Region, HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI) are most prevalent among men who have sex with men (MSM), but incidence estimates and associated factors have never been prospectively assessed.
A cohort of 1056 high-risk HIV-negative MSM in Lima, Peru, was recruited during 1998–2000 (The ALASKA Cohort) and a nested case-control analysis conducted between seroconverters and non-seroconverters, matched 1:3 by age and duration of follow-up for comparison of risk behaviors, acute retroviral symptoms, circumcision, and STI.
During average follow-up of 335 days, 34 men seroconverted, providing a HIV incidence estimate of 3.5/100 person-years (95% CI: 2.3–4.7). High syphilis (9.2/100 person-years, 95% CI: 6.7–10.1) and HSV-2 infection (10.4/100 person-years, 95% CI: 8.6–11.9) incidence estimates were obtained. HIV seroconverters were more likely than men who remained seronegative to report fever ≥3 days (46% vs. 7%), to seek medical care (62% vs. 27%), and to have ≥1 casual partner (86.2% vs. 74.1%) since their last visit. HIV seroconverters also were more likely to have acquired syphilis or HSV-2 infection (31% vs. 8% among initially HSV-2 seronegative men) while were less likely to be circumcised (4.2% vs. 20.6%, a non-significant difference). In multivariate analysis, incident syphilis or HSV-2 infection (OR: 5.9, 95% CI 1.5–22.7) and sex with any casual partner (OR: 4.8, 95% CI: 0.9–26.2) were associated with HIV seroconversion.
STI that may cause anogenital ulcers are important risk factors for HIV acquisition among high-risk MSM in Lima, a population with a very high HIV incidence estimate. Synergistic interventions focusing in preventing both HIV and HSV-2, like male circumcision, are warranted to be assessed, especially in MSM populations with low levels of circumcision and high incidence estimates of ulcerative STI.
homosexual men; Peru; HSV-2 infection; syphilis; HIV infection; incidence
HIV disproportionately affects men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM and heterosexual networks are distinguished by biologically determined sexual role segregation among heterosexual individuals but not MSM, and anal/vaginal transmissibility differences. To identify how much these biological and demographic differences could explain persistent disparities in HIV/sexually transmitted disease prevalence in the United States, even were MSM and heterosexual individuals to report identical numbers of unprotected sexual partnerships per year.
A compartmental model parameterized using two population‐based surveys. Role composition was varied between MSM and heterosexual subjects (insertive‐only and receptive‐only versus versatile individuals) and infectivity values.
The absence of sexual role segregation in MSM and the differential anal/vaginal transmission probabilities led to considerable disparities in equilibrium prevalence. The US heterosexual population would only experience an epidemic comparable to MSM if the mean partner number of heterosexual individuals was increased several fold over that observed in population‐based studies of either group. In order for MSM to eliminate the HIV epidemic, they would need to develop rates of unprotected sex lower than those currently exhibited by heterosexual individuals in the United States. In this model, for US heterosexual individuals to have a self‐sustaining epidemic, they would need to adopt levels of unprotected sex higher than those currently exhibited by US MSM.
The persistence of disparities in HIV between heterosexual individuals and MSM in the United States cannot be explained solely by differences in risky sexual behavior between these two populations.
human immunodeficiency virus type 1; homosexual men; heterosexuals; homosexual role segregation; mathematical epidemiology
Despite the moderate efficacy of HIV prevention interventions for at risk gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM), MSM continue to represent the largest group of new HIV infections and the largest number of individuals living with HIV in the US. Environmental factors such as sexual minority stress increase the vulnerability of MSM for mental health problems. These mental health problems can be a barrier to consistently engaging in self-care health behaviors such as sexual risk reduction. We consider the following observations critical to identifying priorities for HIV prevention among MSM: (1) gay, bisexual and other MSM have higher rates of mental health problems than general population estimates; (2) these mental health problems co-occur with each other and interact synergistically to increase HIV risk; and (3) comorbid mental health problems may compromise the impact of prevention programs, and integrating treatment of mental health issues into prevention programs may improve program efficacy. Novel prevention interventions for at risk MSM that integrate programming with the treatment of co-occurring and interfering mental health issues are the most promising avenue to increase prevention intervention efficacy and effectiveness. By addressing significant mental health issues and supporting broad based prevention efforts at the individual and community level, there is also the potential to improve the overall quality of life and public mental health of gay, bisexual, and other MSM.
Men who have sex with men; MSM; Syndemics; HIV prevention; Mental health
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.
stigma; homosexuality; men who have sex with men; race; General Social Survey
INTRODUCTION: Black men who have sex with men (MSM) and women but who do not identify as gay or disclose their bisexual activities to main female partners, also known as men "on the down-low," have been cited as the main reason for the increase in HIV infections in black women. METHODS: Three online databases (PsychInfo, MEDLINE and AIDSLINE) were searched for scientific articles related to men on the down-low. A total of 24 articles and two conference abstracts were selected for review. RESULTS: Data from existing studies of MSM reveal low agreement between professed sexual identity and corresponding sexual behavior among black and other MSM; show that black MSM are more likely than MSM of other racial or ethnic groups to be bisexually active or identified; and, compared with white MSM, are less likely to disclose their bisexual or homosexual activities to others. However, black MSM who do not disclose their homosexual or bisexual activities engage in a lower prevalence of HIV risks than black MSM who do disclose; and black men who are currently bisexually active account for a very small proportion of the overall population of black men (2%). CONCLUSION: The high prevalence of HIV in the black community and the greater likelihood of bisexuality among black men place heterosexual black women at risk for HIV infection. However, the contribution of high-risk heterosexual black men to the rising HIV caseload among black women has been largely ignored. Future research must evaluate the relative contributions of bisexual men and exclusively heterosexual black men to HIV cases among black women.