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1.  Long-Term Biological and Behavioural Impact of an Adolescent Sexual Health Intervention in Tanzania: Follow-up Survey of the Community-Based MEMA kwa Vijana Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(6):e1000287.
David Ross and colleagues conduct a follow-up survey of the community-based MEMA kwa Vijana (“Good things for young people”) trial in rural Tanzania to assess the long-term behavioral and biological impact of an adolescent sexual health intervention.
Background
The ability of specific behaviour-change interventions to reduce HIV infection in young people remains questionable. Since January 1999, an adolescent sexual and reproductive health (SRH) intervention has been implemented in ten randomly chosen intervention communities in rural Tanzania, within a community randomised trial (see below; NCT00248469). The intervention consisted of teacher-led, peer-assisted in-school education, youth-friendly health services, community activities, and youth condom promotion and distribution. Process evaluation in 1999–2002 showed high intervention quality and coverage. A 2001/2 intervention impact evaluation showed no impact on the primary outcomes of HIV seroincidence and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) seroprevalence but found substantial improvements in SRH knowledge, reported attitudes, and some reported sexual behaviours. It was postulated that the impact on “upstream” knowledge, attitude, and reported behaviour outcomes seen at the 3-year follow-up would, in the longer term, lead to a reduction in HIV and HSV-2 infection rates and other biological outcomes. A further impact evaluation survey in 2007/8 (∼9 years post-intervention) tested this hypothesis.
Methods and Findings
This is a cross-sectional survey (June 2007 through July 2008) of 13,814 young people aged 15–30 y who had attended trial schools during the first phase of the MEMA kwa Vijana intervention trial (1999–2002). Prevalences of the primary outcomes HIV and HSV-2 were 1.8% and 25.9% in males and 4.0% and 41.4% in females, respectively. The intervention did not significantly reduce risk of HIV (males adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR] 0.91, 95%CI 0.50–1.65; females aPR 1.07, 95%CI 0.68–1.67) or HSV-2 (males aPR 0.94, 95%CI 0.77–1.15; females aPR 0.96, 95%CI 0.87–1.06). The intervention was associated with a reduction in the proportion of males reporting more than four sexual partners in their lifetime (aPR 0.87, 95%CI 0.78–0.97) and an increase in reported condom use at last sex with a non-regular partner among females (aPR 1.34, 95%CI 1.07–1.69). There was a clear and consistent beneficial impact on knowledge, but no significant impact on reported attitudes to sexual risk, reported pregnancies, or other reported sexual behaviours. The study population was likely to have been, on average, at lower risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections compared to other rural populations, as only youth who had reached year five of primary school were eligible.
Conclusions
SRH knowledge can be improved and retained long-term, but this intervention had only a limited effect on reported behaviour and no significant effect on HIV/STI prevalence. Youth interventions integrated within intensive, community-wide risk reduction programmes may be more successful and should be evaluated.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00248469
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, about 2.5 million people become infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS. HIV is most often spread through unprotected sex with an infected partner, so individuals can reduce their risk of HIV infection by abstaining from sex, by delaying first sex, by having few partners, and by always using a condom. And, because nearly half of new HIV infections occur among youths (15- to 24-year-olds), programs targeted at adolescents that encourage these protective behaviors could have a substantial impact on the HIV epidemic. One such program is the MEMA kwa Vijana (“Good things for young people”) program in rural Tanzania. This program includes in-school sexual and reproductive health (SRH) education for pupils in their last three years of primary education (12- to 15-year-olds) that provides them with the knowledge and skills needed to delay sexual debut and to reduce sexual risk taking. Between 1999 and 2002, the program was trialed in ten randomly chosen rural communities in the Mwanza Region of Tanzania; ten similar communities that did not receive the intervention acted as controls. Since 2004, the program has been scaled up to cover more communities.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although the quality and coverage of the MEMA kwa Vijana program was good, a 2001/2002 evaluation found no evidence that the intervention had reduced the incidence of HIV (the proportion of the young people in the trial who became HIV positive during the follow-up period) or the prevalence (the proportion of the young people in the trial who were HIV positive at the end of the follow-up period) of herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2, another sexually transmitted virus). However, the evaluation found improvements in SRH knowledge, in reported sexual attitudes, and in some reported sexual behaviors. Evaluations of other HIV prevention programs in other developing countries have also failed to provide strong evidence that such programs decrease the risk of HIV infection or other biological outcomes such as the frequency of other sexually transmitted infections or pregnancies, even when SRH knowledge improves. One possibility is that it takes some time for improved SRH knowledge to be reflected in true changes in sexual behavior and in HIV prevalence. In this follow-up study, therefore, researchers investigate the long-term impact of the MEMA kwa Vijana program on HIV and HSV-2 prevalence and ask whether the improvement in knowledge, reported attitudes and sexual risk behaviours seen at the 3-year follow up has persisted.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In 2007/8, the researchers surveyed nearly 14,000 young people who had attended the trial schools between 1999 and 2002. Each participant had their HIV and HSV-2 status determined and answered questions (for example, “can HIV be caught by sexual intercourse (making love) with someone,” and “if a girl accepts a gift from a boy, must she agree to have sexual intercourse (make love) with him?”) to provide three composite sexual knowledge scores and one composite attitude score. 1.8% of the male and 4.0% of the female participants were HIV positive; 25.9% and 41.4% of the male and female participants, respectively, were HSV-2 positive. The prevalences were similar among the young people whose trial communities had been randomly allocated to receive the MEMA kwa Vijana Program and those whose communities had not received it, indicating that the MEMA kwa Vijana intervention program had not reduced the risk of HIV or HSV-2. The intervention program was associated, however, with a reduction in the proportion of men reporting more than four sexual partners in their lifetime and with an increase in reported condom use at last sex with a non-regular partner among women. Finally, although the intervention had still increased SRH knowledge, it now had had no impact on reported attitudes to sexual risk, reported pregnancies, or other reported risky sexual behaviors beyond what might have happened due to chance.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, in the MEMA kwa Vijana trial, SRH knowledge improved and that this improved knowledge was retained for many years. Disappointingly, however, this intervention program had only a limited effect on reported sexual behaviors and no effect on HIV and HSV-2 prevalence at the 9-year follow-up. Although these findings may not be generalizable to other adolescent populations, they suggest that intervention programs that target only adolescents might not be particularly effective. Young people might find it hard to put their improved skills and knowledge into action when challenged, for example, by widespread community attitudes such as acceptance of older male–younger female relationships. Thus, the researchers suggest that the integration of youth HIV prevention programs within risk reduction programs that tackle sexual norms and expectations in all age groups might be a more successful approach and should be evaluated.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000287.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Rachel Jewkes
More information about the MEMA kwa Vijana program is available at their Web site
Information is available from the Programme for Research and Capacity Building in Sexual and Reproductive Health and HIV in Developing Countries on recent and ongoing research on HIV infection and other STIs
Information is available from the World Health Organization on HIV and on the health of young people
Information on HIV is available from UNAIDS
Information on HIV in children and adolescents is available from UNICEF
Information on HIV prevention interventions in the education sector is available from UNESCO
Information on HIV infection and AIDS is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide information on HIV/AIDS and on HIV/AIDS among youth (in English and Spanish)
HIV InSitehas comprehensive information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including links to information on the prevention of HIV/AIDS
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV and AIDS prevention and AIDS and sex education (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000287
PMCID: PMC2882431  PMID: 20543994
2.  An integrated model of care to counter high incidence of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases in men who have sex with men – initial analysis of service utilizers in Zurich 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:180.
Background
As other countries, Switzerland experiences a high or even rising incidence of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI) among men who have sex with men (MSM). An outpatient clinic for gay men ("Checkpoint") was opened in 2006 in Zurich (Switzerland) in order to provide sexual health services. The clinic provides counselling, testing, medical treatment and follow-up at one location under an "open-door-policy" and with a high level of personal continuity. We describe first experiences with the new service and report the characteristics of the population that utilized it.
Methods
During the 6-month evaluation period, individuals who requested counselling, testing or treatment were asked to participate in a survey at their first visit prior to the consultation. The instrument includes questions regarding personal data, reasons for presenting, sexual behaviour, and risk situations. Number and results of HIV/STI tests and treatments for STI were also recorded.
Results
During the evaluation period, 632 consultations were conducted and 247 patients were seen by the physician. 406 HIV tests were performed (3.4% positive). 402 men completed the entry survey (64% of all consultations). The majority of respondents had 4 and more partners during the last 12 months and engaged in either receptive, insertive or both forms of anal intercourse. More than half of the responders used drugs or alcohol to get to know other men or in conjunction with sexual activity (42% infrequently, 10% frequently and 0.5% used drugs always). The main reasons for requesting testing were a prior risk situation (46.3%), followed by routine screening without a prior risk situation (24.1%) and clarification of HIV/STI status due to a new relationship (29.6%). A fifth of men that consulted the service had no history of prior tests for HIV or other STIs.
Conclusion
Since its first months of activity, the service achieved high levels of recognition, acceptance and demand in the MSM community. Contrary to common concepts of "testing clinics", the Checkpoint service provides post-exposure prophylaxis, HIV and STI treatment, psychological support and counselling and general medical care. It thus follows a holistic approach to health in the MSM community with the particular aim to serve as a "door opener" between the established system of care and those men that have no access to, or for any reason hesitate to utilize traditional health care.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-180
PMCID: PMC2412874  PMID: 18505556
3.  Prevalence of Consensual Male–Male Sex and Sexual Violence, and Associations with HIV in South Africa: A Population-Based Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(6):e1001472.
Using a method that offered complete privacy to participants, Rachel Jewkes and colleagues conducted a survey among South African men about their lifetime same-sex experiences.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
In sub-Saharan Africa the population prevalence of men who have sex with men (MSM) is unknown, as is the population prevalence of male-on-male sexual violence, and whether male-on-male sexual violence may relate to HIV risk. This paper describes lifetime prevalence of consensual male–male sexual behavior and male-on-male sexual violence (victimization and perpetration) in two South African provinces, socio-demographic factors associated with these experiences, and associations with HIV serostatus.
Methods and Findings
In a cross-sectional study conducted in 2008, men aged 18–49 y from randomly selected households in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces provided anonymous survey data and dried blood spots for HIV serostatus assessment. Interviews were completed in 1,737 of 2,298 (75.6%) of enumerated and eligible households. From these households, 1,705 men (97.1%) provided data on lifetime history of same-sex experiences, and 1,220 (70.2%) also provided dried blood spots for HIV testing. 5.4% (n = 92) of participants reported a lifetime history of any consensual sexual activity with another man; 9.6% (n = 164) reported any sexual victimization by a man, and 3.0% (n = 51) reported perpetrating sexual violence against another man. 85.0% (n = 79) of men with a history of consensual sex with men reported having a current female partner, and 27.7% (n = 26) reported having a current male partner. Of the latter, 80.6% (n = 21/26) also reported having a female partner. Men reporting a history of consensual male–male sexual behavior are more likely to have been a victim of male-on-male sexual violence (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 7.24; 95% CI 4.26–12.3), and to have perpetrated sexual violence against another man (aOR = 3.10; 95% CI 1.22–7.90). Men reporting consensual oral/anal sex with a man were more likely to be HIV+ than men with no such history (aOR = 3.11; 95% CI 1.24–7.80). Men who had raped a man were more likely to be HIV+ than non-perpetrators (aOR = 3.58; 95% CI 1.17–10.9).
Conclusions
In this sample, one in 20 men (5.4%) reported lifetime consensual sexual contact with a man, while about one in ten (9.6%) reported experience of male-on-male sexual violence victimization. Men who reported having had sex with men were more likely to be HIV+, as were men who reported perpetrating sexual violence towards other men. Whilst there was no direct measure of male–female concurrency (having overlapping sexual relationships with men and women), the data suggest that this may have been common. These findings suggest that HIV prevention messages regarding male–male sex in South Africa should be mainstreamed with prevention messages for the general population, and sexual health interventions and HIV prevention interventions for South African men should explicitly address male-on-male sexual violence.
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 it soon became clear that AIDS also infects heterosexual men and women. Now, three decades on, globally, 34 million people (two-thirds of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa and half of whom are women) are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and 2.5 million people become infected every year. HIV is most often spread by having unprotected sex with an infected partner, and 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; homosexual, bisexual, and transgender men, and heterosexual men who sometimes have consensual sex with men). Moreover, in the concentrated HIV epidemics of high-income countries (epidemics in which the prevalence of HIV infection is more than 5% in at-risk populations such as sex workers but less than 1% in the general population), male-to-male sexual contact remains the most important transmission route, and MSM often have a higher prevalence of HIV infection than heterosexual men.
Why Was This Study Done?
By contrast to high-income countries, HIV epidemics in sub-Saharan Africa are generalized—the prevalence of HIV infection is 1% or more in the general population. Because male-to-male sexual behavior is criminalized in many African countries and because homosexuality is widely stigmatized, little is known about the prevalence of consensual male–male sexual behavior in sub-Saharan Africa. This information and a better understanding of male–female sexual concurrency (having overlapping sexual relationships with men and women) and of how male-to-male transmission contributes to generalized HIV epidemics is needed to inform the design of HIV prevention strategies for use in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, very little is known about male-on-male sexual violence. Such violence is potentially important to study because we know that male-on-female violence is associated with increased HIV risk for both victims and perpetrators. In this cross-sectional study (an investigation that measures population characteristics at a single time point), the researchers use data from a population-based household survey to investigate the lifetime prevalence of consensual male–male sexual behavior and male-on-male sexual violence (victimization and perpetration) among men in South Africa and the association of these experiences with HIV infection.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
About 1,700 adult men from randomly selected households in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces of South Africa self-completed a survey that included questions about their lifetime history of same-sex experiences using audio-enhanced personal digital assistants, a data collection method that provided a totally private and anonymous environment for the disclosure of illegal and stigmatized behavior; 1,220 of them also provided dried blood spots for HIV testing. Ninety-two men (5.4% of the participants) reported consensual sexual activity (for example, anal or oral sex) with another man at some time during their life; 9.6% of the men reported that they had been forced to have sex with another man (sexual victimization), and 3% reported that they had perpetrated sexual violence against another man. Most of the men who reported consensual sex with men, including those with current male partners, reported that they had a current female partner. Men with a history of consensual male–male sexual behavior were more likely to have been a victim or perpetrator of male-on-male sexual violence than men without a history of such experiences. Finally, men who reported consensual oral or anal sex with a man were more likely to be HIV+ than men without such a history, and perpetrators of male-on-male sexual violence were more likely to be HIV+ than non-perpetrators.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide new information about male–male sexual behaviors, male-on-male sexual violence, male–female concurrency, and HIV prevalence among men in two South African provinces. The precision of these findings is likely to be affected by the small numbers of men reporting a history of consensual male–male sexual behavior and of male-on-male sexual violence. Importantly, because the study was cross-sectional, these findings cannot indicate whether the association between consensual male–male sexual behaviors and increased risk of male-on-male sexual violence is causal. Moreover, these findings may not be generalizable to other regions of South Africa or to other African countries. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that information about the risks of male–male sexual behaviors should be included in HIV prevention strategies targeted at the general population in South Africa and that HIV prevention interventions for South African men should explicitly address male-on-male sexual violence. Similar HIV prevention strategies may also be suitable for other African countries, but are likely to succeed only in countries that have, like South Africa, decriminalized consensual homosexual behavior.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001472.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Jerome Singh
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS, including summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV and men who have sex with men, on HIV prevention, and on AIDS in Africa (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has information about HIV/AIDS among men who have sex with men (in English and Spanish)
Patient stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through Avert; the charity website Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about living with HIV
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001472
PMCID: PMC3708702  PMID: 23853554
4.  STI prevention and the male sex industry in London: evaluating a pilot peer education programme 
Sexually Transmitted Infections  2000;76(6):447-453.
Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of a pilot peer education STI prevention programme with male sex workers.
Design: A process and outcome evaluation of the pilot programme undertaken in three London male escort agencies, using a quasi-experimental design.
Subjects: Workers in three London escort agencies, including 88 who completed a questionnaire, five peer educators, and a further 16 men (including management) working in two of these agencies.
Methods: A peer education STI prevention programme run by the Working Men Project (WMP), a specialist sexual health service for male sex workers, was piloted in two London escort agencies. Five male sex workers participated in a 2 day peer education training programme. They then returned to their respective agencies to disseminate information and condoms, in an attempt to influence norms of behaviour.
An outcome evaluation aimed to assess changes in STI related knowledge, high risk sexual behaviour, and attendance at a sexual health service. A pre-intervention questionnaire assessing variables such as STI related knowledge, sexual behaviour, and demographic information was administered in both agency A and agency B and a third agency, C, which acted as a control. Ten weeks after the peer educators returned to their agencies, the same questionnaire was administered in the same agencies. Peer educator referrals to the WMP were also recorded over this time period. The process evaluation involved interviews and focus groups with peer educators, and the completion of diaries about their experiences in the role. A further 16 men working in the agencies (including managers and an owner) were interviewed about their experience of the programme. Participant observation was also undertaken through regular outreach work to the agencies.
Results: 57 men completed the questionnaire at time 1 and 44 at time 2. Unfortunately, only 13 of these were matched, precluding any meaningful analysis of change in STI related knowledge and sexual behaviour. The questionnaire provided a profile of the men working in the agencies. Of the 88 men who completed the questionnaire at least once, the majority were homosexual, and in their late teens/early 20s. Most were of a "white" ethnic group, though there was some range within these categories. Most preferred to speak English and education levels were high. Relative STI knowledge revealed a high understanding of HIV and hepatitis B, moderate understanding of gonorrhoea, syphilis, genital warts and herpes, and little knowledge of non-specific urethritis (NSU) or chlamydia. Sexual behaviour suggested a highly sexually active population with both male and female paying and non-paying partners. Condom use was highest for paying partners, particularly for anal sex. Condom use for oral sex with all partners was less consistent, and condom use for all types of sex with regular partners was lower than with other partners. The small number of men engaging in vaginal sex with paying and regular partners were less likely to use condoms. 26 new patients registered at the WMP as a result of peer educator referrals, representing 65% of all new contacts over the study period. The process evaluation revealed that while the training programme was considered adequate and while peer educators felt the programme and their roles to be a success, their experience of the role was difficult. The role of management support was crucial in supporting the programme. The assumption that "peers" are particularly effective educators was not borne out by the results. While peers were considered suitable to discuss some aspects of the industry, many preferred to consult "professionals" about health related matters. The concept of "peers" was problematic with most of the men drawing "peers" from subgroups within the agencies. Other constraints on behaviour such as a lack of power, particularly with regard to a lack of management support, or poverty, had a substantial impact on behaviour which were not influenced by the peer educators.
Conclusions: The study illustrated the difficulties of utilising quasi-experimental evaluation methodology with this client group. It also demonstrated the limitations of peer education based on information provision health education models which focus on individual behaviour change. Suggestions are given for future interventions.
Key Words: male sex workers; peer education; evaluation
doi:10.1136/sti.76.6.447
PMCID: PMC1744253  PMID: 11221127
5.  Is Food Insecurity Associated with HIV Risk? Cross-Sectional Evidence from Sexually Active Women in Brazil 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(4):e1001203.
Alexander Tsai and colleagues show that in sexually active women in Brazil severe food insecurity with hunger was positively associated with symptoms potentially indicative of sexually transmitted infection and with reduced odds of condom use.
Background
Understanding how food insecurity among women gives rise to differential patterning in HIV risks is critical for policy and programming in resource-limited settings. This is particularly the case in Brazil, which has undergone successive changes in the gender and socio-geographic composition of its complex epidemic over the past three decades. We used data from a national survey of Brazilian women to estimate the relationship between food insecurity and HIV risk.
Methods and Findings
We used data on 12,684 sexually active women from a national survey conducted in Brazil in 2006–2007. Self-reported outcomes were (a) consistent condom use, defined as using a condom at each occasion of sexual intercourse in the previous 12 mo; (b) recent condom use, less stringently defined as using a condom with the most recent sexual partner; and (c) itchy vaginal discharge in the previous 30 d, possibly indicating presence of a sexually transmitted infection. The primary explanatory variable of interest was food insecurity, measured using the culturally adapted and validated Escala Brasiliera de Segurança Alimentar. In multivariable logistic regression models, severe food insecurity with hunger was associated with a reduced odds of consistent condom use in the past 12 mo (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 0.67; 95% CI, 0.48–0.92) and condom use at last sexual intercourse (AOR = 0.75; 95% CI, 0.57–0.98). Self-reported itchy vaginal discharge was associated with all categories of food insecurity (with AORs ranging from 1.46 to 1.94). In absolute terms, the effect sizes were large in magnitude across all outcomes. Underweight and/or lack of control in sexual relations did not appear to mediate the observed associations.
Conclusions
Severe food insecurity with hunger was associated with reduced odds of condom use and increased odds of itchy vaginal discharge, which is potentially indicative of sexually transmitted infection, among sexually active women in Brazil. Interventions targeting food insecurity may have beneficial implications for HIV prevention in resource-limited settings.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
At the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, more men than women were infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, but currently half of all HIV-positive adults are women. Most women become infected with HIV through unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected male partner. Biologically, women are twice as likely to become infected through unprotected heterosexual intercourse as men. Moreover, women are often unable to negotiate condom use because of unequal gender relations—men can insist on unprotected sexual intercourse in many relationships. Another factor often related to unequal gender relations that may shape women's risk of exposure to HIV is food insecurity—limited or uncertain access to enough nutritionally adequate and safe food for an active, healthy life. Recent studies done in sub-Saharan Africa suggest that food insecurity can affect women's engagement in risky sexual behaviors such as unprotected sex, transactional sex (sexual relationships that involve the giving of goods or services such as free lodgings), and commercial sex work.
Why Was This Study Done?
Policymakers planning HIV prevention strategies in resource-limited settings need to know whether food insecurity affects sexual risk taking among women. If it increases risk taking, then interventions that target food insecurity should improve the effectiveness of HIV prevention strategies. However, little is known about food insecurity and sexual risk taking outside sub-Saharan Africa. In this cross-sectional study (a study that characterizes a population at a single point in time), the researchers investigate whether food insecurity is associated with risky sexual behavior among sexually active women in Brazil, a country where the number of new heterosexually transmitted HIV infections among women is increasing. Condom promotion is the mainstay of Brazil's HIV prevention strategy, but less than half of the population reports the use of a condom whenever sexual intercourse occurs (consistent condom use) or at last sexual intercourse (recent condom use), and a greater proportion of men than women report condom use, possibly because of unequal power relations between men and women.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers obtained data on consistent condom use, recent condom use, and self-reported itchy vaginal discharge in the previous 30 days (used here as an indication that a woman may have a sexually transmitted infection) for 12,684 sexually active women from a national survey conducted in Brazil in 2006–2007. They then used multivariable logistic regression (a statistical method) to investigate the association between these outcomes and food insecurity, which was measured using the Escala Brasiliera de Insegurança Alimentar, an 18-item questionnaire that asks people to recall information about the quantity and quality of food available to them over the previous three months. Severe food insecurity with hunger (the most extreme category of food insecurity) was associated with an adjusted odds ratio (AOR) for consistent condom use of 0.67. That is, women who reported severe food insecurity were two-thirds as likely to use a condom whenever they had sexual intercourse as women who were food secure, after adjustment for other factors that might have affected condom use. The probability of consistent condom use was 15% among women who were food secure but only 10.5% among women who had the worst food security. Severe food insecurity with hunger was also associated with a reduced odds of recent condom use (AOR = 0.75), whereas all categories of food insecurity increased the odds of a recent itchy vaginal discharge.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that severe food insecurity with hunger is associated with reduced condom use and with increased occurrence of symptoms that may indicate sexually transmitted disease among sexually active women in Brazil. Because the study looked at women at only a single time point, these findings do not show that food insecurity causes risky sexual behavior. Moreover, these findings may not be generalizable to other settings, and they do not distinguish between regular condom use with a regular partner and regular condom use with casual partners. Also, although the researchers investigated two hypothesized explanations—lack of control in sexual relations and chronic energy deficiency—neither of these factors could explain why food insecurity is associated with risky sexual behavior. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that interventions that target sexual risk reduction behaviors are unlikely to be optimally effective if food insecurity is not taken into account, and, thus, the researchers conclude, HIV prevention strategies in Brazil should include interventions that target food insecurity.
Additional Information
Please access these web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001203.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on all aspects of HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS, and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment (in several languages)
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including detailed information on HIV and AIDS prevention, women, HIV, and AIDS, and HIV and AIDS in Brazil (in English and Spanish); personal stories of women living with HIV are available
HIV InSite provides comprehensive and up-to-date information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS from the University of California at San Francisco
Additional patient stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through the charity website Healthtalkonline
A primer on food security from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is available
Information about the 2006–2007 Brazilian national survey on health in women and children is available in Portuguese; a profile of food security in Brazil is also available (some information in English but mainly in Portuguese)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001203
PMCID: PMC3323512  PMID: 22505852
6.  Risks for STIs/HIV infection among Madawalabu University students, Southeast Ethiopia: a cross sectional study 
Reproductive Health  2013;10:38.
Introduction
In developing nations, the spread of STIs/HIV infection continues to affect millions of young and productive population. In Ethiopia youths including university/college students are at greater risk of STIs including HIV infection often due to many risky sexual behaviors. Although there are some anecdotal evidences suggesting widespread unsafe sexual practices among university students, the paucity of research finding, especially in newly established public universities are the major bottle necks to commence feasible interventions. Therefore, this study was designed to assess the magnitudes and factors associated with risks for STIs/HIV infections among Madawalabu university students in Southeast Ethiopia.
Methodology
An institution based cross sectional study was conducted from May-June 2012. A total of 390 students were selected using stratified then simple random sampling method. Descriptive statistics, binary logistic and multivariable logistic regression analyses were employed to identify factors associated with risks for STIs/HIV infection.
Result
Combined risk measure showed that 51.4% of students were at risk of having STIs and/or HIV infection. Practicing casual sex/sex for benefits with first sexual partner (OR = 3.9[95%C.I: 1.86-8.03]), life time multiple sexual partner (had more than three sexual partners) (OR = 2.7[95%C.I: 1.13-6.28]), and number of sexual partners in the last 12 months (four and above) (OR = 4.8[95%C.I: 1.77-13.53]) showed statistically significant association with risks for STIs and/or HIV infection. Practicing casual sex/ sex for any benefit with their first sexual partner (AOR = 3.9 [95%CI: 1.80-8.50]) and multiple sexual partners in the last 12 months (four and above) (AOR = 3.7 [95%C.I: 1.15-11.80]) were found to be the independent predictors of risks for STIs and/or HIV infection.
Conclusion
This study has identified risks and risk sexual behaviors for STIs and/or HIV infection on university students. The knowledge of the students towards STIs and/or HIV is unsatisfactory. More than half of the students were at risk for STIs and/or HIV infection. Casual/benefit based sexual relationship with first sexual partner and having multiple sexual partners (≥4 sexual partners) in the last 12 months were independent predictors of STIs and/or HIV infections. Therefore, university based, risk reduction and behavior change focused interventions are recommended.
doi:10.1186/1742-4755-10-38
PMCID: PMC3735396  PMID: 24069905
7.  Risk perceptions of STIs/HIV and sexual risk behaviours among sexually experienced adolescents in the Northern part of Lao PDR 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:1126.
Background
Young people in Laos are more vulnerable to STIs/HIV due to their sexual risk behaviours, low perceptions of risk and their socio-cultural environments. Perceived risk of contracting STIs/HIV is crucial for the assessment of their risk regarding their actual sexual risk behaviors. Thus, the objective of this paper is to explore perceptions of risk related to STIs/HIV and identify factors associated with this perceived risk among adolescents.
Methods
This was a cross sectional study of sexually experienced adolescents aged 14 to 19 years old in the Luangnamtha province. The multistage sampling techniques were used for selecting 1008 adolescents aged 14-19 years old. Of these, 483 respondents reported having had sexual experience was selected for analysis. Univariate and Logistic regression were performed.
Result
Six per cent of respondents reported ever having had anal sex. Slightly less than two thirds initiated their first sexual intercourse before age 15. Two thirds of the sexually experienced males reported two or more sexual partners during their lifetime with the mean 3.1 + 3.65 while only twelve per cent of girls reported this cumulative number of partners. Slightly more than half (57.6%) regarded themselves to have no risk at all with 17.2 per cent considered themselves to have low risk. Respondents had poor knowledge on STIs/HIV. Factors associated with risk perception of getting STIs were: being male, high level of knowledge about STIs and having had symptoms of STIs in last six months. Perceived risk of getting HIV was significantly associated with being male, having more knowledge about STIs and HIV.
Conclusion
Adolescents in this study engaged in sexual risk behaviours, but they have low perception of risk getting STI/HIV. Socio-demographic factors, knowledge of STIs/HIV, and the level of exposure to STIs were the main determinants of the risk perception of STIs/HIV. Our finding supports the need to target adolescents in Luangnamtha province for HIV prevention intervention by addressing inaccurate perception of risk and increasing their knowledge on STIs/HIV.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-1126
PMCID: PMC3890592  PMID: 24304698
Risk perceptions; Sexual risk behaviors; Luangnamtha province; Lao PDR
8.  Self-reported history of sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and STI-related utilization of the German health care system by men who have sex with men: data from a large convenience sample 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:132.
Background
In Germany, testing and treatment of sexually transmissible infections (STIs) services are not provided by one medical discipline, but rather dispersed among many different providers. Common STIs like gonorrhoea or Chlamydia infection are not routinely reported. Although men who have sex with men (MSM) are particularly vulnerable to STIs, respective health care utilization among MSM is largely unknown.
Methods
A sexual behaviour survey among MSM was conducted in 2006. Questions on self-reported sexual behaviour, STI-related health care consultation and barriers to access, coverage of vaccination against hepatitis, screening for asymptomatic STIs, self-reported history of STIs, and partner notification were analysed. Analysis was stratified by HIV-serostatus (3,511 HIV-negative/unknown versus 874 positive).
Results
General Practitioners, particularly gay doctors, were preferred for STI-related health care. Low threshold testing in sex-associated venues was acceptable for most respondents. Shame and fear of homophobic reactions were the main barriers for STI-testing. More than half of the respondents reported vaccination against hepatitis A/B. HIV-positive MSM reported screening offers for STIs three to seven times more often than HIV-negative or untested MSM. Unlike testing for syphilis or hepatitis C, screening for asymptomatic pharyngeal and rectal infections was rarely offered. STIs in the previous twelve months were reported by 7.1% of HIV-negative/untested, and 34.7% of HIV-positive respondents.
Conclusions
Self-reported histories of STIs in MSM convenience samples differ significantly by HIV-serostatus. Higher rates of STIs among HIV-positive MSM may partly be explained by more testing. Communication between health care providers and their clients about sexuality, sexual practices, and sexual risks should be improved. A comprehensive STI screening policy for MSM is needed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-132
PMCID: PMC3121611  PMID: 21592342
Sexual Behaviour [MeSH]; Delivery of Health Care [MeSH]; Health Surveys [MeSH]; Sexually Transmitted Diseases [MeSH]; Men who have sex with men (MSM) [non-MeSH]
9.  Impact and Process Evaluation of Integrated Community and Clinic-Based HIV-1 Control: A Cluster-Randomised Trial in Eastern Zimbabwe 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(3):e102.
Background
HIV-1 control in sub-Saharan Africa requires cost-effective and sustainable programmes that promote behaviour change and reduce cofactor sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at the population and individual levels.
Methods and Findings
We measured the feasibility of community-based peer education, free condom distribution, income-generating projects, and clinic-based STI treatment and counselling services and evaluated their impact on the incidence of HIV-1 measured over a 3-y period in a cluster-randomised controlled trial in eastern Zimbabwe. Analysis of primary outcomes was on an intention-to-treat basis. The income-generating projects proved impossible to implement in the prevailing economic climate. Despite greater programme activity and knowledge in the intervention communities, the incidence rate ratio of HIV-1 was 1.27 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.92–1.75) compared to the control communities. No evidence was found for reduced incidence of self-reported STI symptoms or high-risk sexual behaviour in the intervention communities. Males who attended programme meetings had lower HIV-1 incidence (incidence rate ratio 0.48, 95% CI 0.24–0.98), and fewer men who attended programme meetings reported unprotected sex with casual partners (odds ratio 0.45, 95% CI 0.28–0.75). More male STI patients in the intervention communities reported cessation of symptoms (odds ratio 2.49, 95% CI 1.21–5.12).
Conclusions
Integrated peer education, condom distribution, and syndromic STI management did not reduce population-level HIV-1 incidence in a declining epidemic, despite reducing HIV-1 incidence in the immediate male target group. Our results highlight the need to assess the community-level impact of interventions that are effective amongst targeted population sub-groups.
In cluster-randomised trial in Zimbabwe integrated peer education, condom distribution, and management of sexually transmitted infections did not reduce incidence of population-level HIV-1.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Sub-Saharan Africa has been hit heavily by HIV/AIDS, and Zimbabwe in particular has been very badly affected, with over one-fifth of its adult population infected with HIV. However, this proportion has been declining slowly in recent years, and the same trend has also been seen in a few other African countries. It is not clear whether these trends are related to changes in the way people behave, perhaps as a result of public health and prevention campaigns, or rather are due to changes in the natural spread of the HIV epidemic. However, there is considerable uncertainty about how we should carry out campaigns that try to get people to change their behavior. One possible approach for achieving behavior change involves peer education: that is, education carried out within the community, by at-risk community members themselves. Another approach involves tying together a set of related programs that deliver information and education through health clinics and directly in the community. Such programs are termed “integrated community and clinic-based HIV prevention.”
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers wanted to find out whether providing integrated community and clinic-based strategies for HIV prevention in Eastern Zimbabwe could reduce the proportion of people within the community infected with HIV. If successful, then the strategies could be effective elsewhere, for example in other African countries where behavior patterns and the HIV epidemic are similar to the situation studied here.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The research was done as a cluster-randomized trial. This means that different communities were assigned by chance to one of two trial arms, either an “intervention arm”, where the community and clinic-based strategies would be delivered, or a “control” arm which would not have additional services. Six pairs of communities in Eastern Zimbabwe were compared, each of which had its own health center. Control communities received the standard government services for preventing HIV. The other communities received a package of various additional strategies. These included education and condom distribution amongst sex workers and their clients; better services at sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinics (STIs can increase the risk of HIV infection); and educational HIV/AIDS open days at health centers. The researchers planned to compare, between the two arms, the number of people who became infected with HIV over the course of the trial. They found that there was no statistical difference in the number of people in the intervention arm who became infected with HIV over the course of the trial, as compared to people in the control arm. Men in the intervention communities were more likely to have effective treatment for STIs, but women were more likely to show risky behaviors, such as having sex at a younger age, and having unprotected sex. However, men in the intervention communities were more knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS than men in the control communities. One strategy in the intervention arm (delivery of education and condom distribution among sex workers and their clients) may have been less successful because of the economic situation at the time, which meant that the income-generating projects that were supposed to support this initiative were impossible.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Some of the results from this trial are encouraging, for example an improvement in male participants' knowledge and behavior. However, overall, the intervention did not have an impact on the HIV infection rate in the community. Some other trials have also shown similar results. These results mean that other strategies need to be developed, and tested, which will encourage people to change their behavior patterns and reduce the risk of getting HIV. However, trials such as this are very difficult to design, carry out, and interpret. In particular, if a complex intervention such as this fails, it is often hard to tell whether it did so because the intervention was not delivered successfully, or because it did not work.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040102.
Information from Avert, an international HIV/AIDS charity, on HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe
Information from UNAIDS, the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, on strategies for HIV prevention
HIV/AIDS minisite from the World Health Organization
The Web site of the Manicaland HIV/STD Prevention Project discusses this project
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040102
PMCID: PMC1831737  PMID: 17388666
10.  Implementation of Web-Based Respondent Driven Sampling among Men Who Have Sex with Men in Sweden 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(10):e0138599.
Background
Respondent driven sampling (RDS) was designed to study ‘hidden’ populations, for which there are no available sampling frame. RDS has been shown to recruit far into social networks of the study population and achieve unbiased estimates when certain assumptions are fulfilled. Web-based respondent driven sampling (WebRDS) has been implemented among MSM in Vietnam and produced a sufficient sample of MSM. In order to see if WebRDS could work in a ‘hidden’ population in a high-income setting, we performed a WebRDS among MSM in Sweden to study a sensitive topic, sexual risk behaviour for HIV/STI and Internet use.
Methods
A cross-sectional survey was implemented between July 11, 2012 and January 21, 2013 by using a WebRDS software. Men, fifteen years old or above, who reported having ever had sex with another man were included. The web-survey explored sociodemographics, sexual risk behaviour for HIV/STI and Internet use.
Results
The WebRDS process created a sample of 123 eligible respondents. The mean age among participants was 32 years old. All respondents reported having had unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) with at least one regular and one casual sex partner during the last 12 months. On average participants reported having had UAI with three casual sexual partners and in total having had seven casual sex partners during the last 12 months.
Conclusion
The WebRDS produced a sample of Internet-using MSM in Sweden who all reported sexual risk behaviour for HIV/STI during the last 12 months. It holds promise for future online studies among MSM and a possibility to reach MSM at risk for HIV/STI with interventions or information. Some challenges were found including short recruitment chains, and further research need to address how to optimize WebRDS online recruitment methods in high income settings.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0138599
PMCID: PMC4591333  PMID: 26426802
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.  Interventions among male clients of female sex workers in Benin, West Africa: an essential component of targeted HIV preventive interventions 
Sexually Transmitted Infections  2007;83(7):577-581.
Objectives
To assess the impact of interventions targeted towards female sex workers (FSWs) and their male clients on client HIV/STI prevalence and sexual behaviour.
Methods
From 1993 to 2006, an HIV/STI preventive intervention focusing on condom promotion and STI care was implemented among FSWs in Cotonou, Benin, and then expanded to cover their male sexual partners in 2000. The interventions were scaled up to five other cities of Benin in 2001–2002. Serial cross‐sectional surveys of HIV/STI prevalence and sexual behaviour were carried out among clients in Cotonou in 1998, 2002 and 2005; and in the five other cities (O/Cotonou) in 2002 and 2005.
Results
Significant declines in gonorrhoea prevalence among clients of FSWs: Cotonou, from 5.4% in 1998 to 1.6% in 2005; O/Cotonou: from 3.5% in 2002 to 0.59% in 2005. Chlamydia prevalence also declined O/Cotonou, from 4.8% to 1.8%, while HIV prevalence remained stable. Reported condom use by clients with both FSWs and casual non‐FSW partners, but not regular partners, increased significantly. While condom use at last sex with an FSW was similar in Cotonou to O/Cotonou around the time of implementation of the interventions (56% in 1998 vs 49% in 2002, respectively), it had risen to similar levels by 2005 (95% and 96%, respectively).
Conclusions
These results demonstrate that it is possible to implement preventive and clinical services for clients of FSWs, and suggest that such interventions, integrated with those targeted towards FSWs, can have a significant effect on sexual behaviour and STI prevalence (particularly gonorrhoea) among this population.
doi:10.1136/sti.2007.027441
PMCID: PMC2598661  PMID: 17942573
13.  Can Internet-Based Sexual Health Services Increase Diagnoses of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)? Protocol for a Randomized Evaluation of an Internet-Based STI Testing and Results Service 
JMIR Research Protocols  2016;5(1):e9.
Background
Ensuring rapid access to high quality sexual health services is a key public health objective, both in the United Kingdom and internationally. Internet-based testing services for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are considered to be a promising way to achieve this goal. This study will evaluate a nascent online STI testing and results service in South East London, delivered alongside standard face-to-face STI testing services.
Objective
The aim of this study is to establish whether an online testing and results services can (1) increase diagnoses of STIs and (2) increase uptake of STI testing, when delivered alongside standard face-to-face STI testing services.
Methods
This is a single-blind randomized controlled trial. We will recruit 3000 participants who meet the following eligibility criteria: 16-30 years of age, resident in the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark, having at least one sexual partner in the last 12 months, having access to the Internet and willing to take an STI test. People unable to provide informed consent and unable to read and understand English (the websites will be in English) will be excluded. Baseline data will be collected at enrolment. This includes participant contact details, demographic data (date of birth, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation), and sexual health behaviors (last STI test, service used at last STI test and number of sexual partners in the last 12 months). Once enrolled, participants will be randomly allocated either (1) to an online STI testing and results service (Sexual Health 24) offering postal self-administered STI kits for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, and HIV; results via text message (short message service, SMS), except positive results for HIV, which will be delivered by phone; and direct referrals to local clinics for treatment or (2) to a conventional sexual health information website with signposting to local clinic-based sexual health services. Participants will be free to use any other interventions or services during the trial period. At 6 weeks from randomization we will collect self-reported follow-up data on service use, STI tests and results, treatment prescribed, and acceptability of STI testing services. We will also collect objective data from participating STI testing services on uptake of STI testing, STI diagnoses and treatment. We hypothesise that uptake of STI testing and STI diagnoses will be higher in the intervention arm. Our hypothesis is based on the assumption that the intervention is less time-consuming, more convenient, more private, and incur less stigma and embarrassment than face-to-face STI testing pathways. The primary outcome measure is diagnosis of any STI at 6 weeks from randomization and our co-primary outcome is completion of any STI test at 6 weeks from randomization. We define completion of a test, as samples returned, processed, and results delivered to the intervention and/or clinic settings. We will use risk ratios to calculate the effect of the intervention on our primary outcomes with 95% confidence intervals. All analyses will be based on the intention-to-treat (ITT) principle.
Results
This study is funded by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and it has received ethical approval from NRES Committee London-Camberwell St Giles (Ref 14/LO/1477). Research and Development approval has been obtained from Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. Results are expected in June 2016.
Conclusions
This study will provide evidence on the effectiveness of an online STI testing and results service in South East London. Our findings may also be generalizable to similar populations in the United Kingdom.
Trial Registration
International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN): 13354298; http://www.isrctn.com/ISRCTN13354298 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6d9xT2bPj)
doi:10.2196/resprot.4094
PMCID: PMC4733221  PMID: 26772143
sexually transmitted infections; eHealth; Internet; services
14.  Reductions in sexually transmitted infections associated with popular opinion leaders in China in a randomised controlled trial 
Sexually Transmitted Infections  2011;87(4):337-343.
Objectives
A community level randomised controlled trial of a Community Popular Opinion Leader (C-POL) intervention to reduce bacterial and viral sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unprotected extramarital sex was carried out over 2 years in five countries. The main study results did not find significant intervention effects. This paper presents a sub-analysis examining the differential intervention impacts among high-risk and low-risk participants in the China site.
Methods
From 2002 – 2006, 3912 migrant market vendors aged 18 and 49 years were recruited at an urban site in China. Markets were randomly assigned to the C-POL intervention (N=20 markets; n=1979) or standard-care control condition (N=20; n=1933). Both study condition venues received HIV/STI education, free condoms, STI testing and treatment, and training for pharmacists in antibiotic treatments. In intervention markets, C-POLs were identified and trained to diffuse messages regarding safer sex, STI treatment and partner discussions of sex. The primary biological outcome was incidence of new STIs (chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, trichomonas, herpes or HIV). The primary sexual behaviour risk outcome was any unprotected extramarital sex in the prior 3 months.
Results
In unadjusted analyses, women had significantly lower rates of STI infection at 24 months in the C-POL intervention (5.7%) compared to controls (8.3%; p=0.043). In mixed-effects regression models, intervention participants with STIs at previous assessments were about half as likely to have STIs at 24 months (OR 0.47, 95% CI 0.25 to 0.90) compared to controls.
Conclusions
The C-POL intervention lowers HIV risk among those at highest risk (ie, with a STI or engaging in high-risk sexual activities) rather than the general population.
doi:10.1136/sti.2010.046243
PMCID: PMC3098303  PMID: 21278400
15.  Determinants of HIV, viral hepatitis and STI prevention needs among African migrants in Germany; a cross-sectional survey on knowledge, attitudes, behaviors and practices 
BMC Public Health  2015;15:753.
Background
Migrants from sub-Saharan Africa (MisSA) are a relevant sub-group for HIV-transmission in Germany. A total of 10-15 % of all newly diagnosed cases are MisSA, and approximately one third acquired HIV in Germany. There is limited information on knowledge, attitudes, behaviors and practices (KABP) regarding sexual health in African communities residing in Germany.
Methods
From October-December 2013 we conducted a cross-sectional survey on KABP regarding HIV, viral hepatitis (HEP), and sexually transmitted infections (STI) among MisSA in Hamburg as a community-based participatory research project to identify knowledge gaps, sexual risk behavior regarding HIV/HEP/STI, HIV/STI-testing history and attitudes toward people living with HIV (PLWH). Trained peer researchers recruited participants through outreach. Questionnaires in German, English or French were either administered face-to-face or self-completed. Questions on knowledge about HIV/HEP/STI presented true statements; participants were asked if they knew the information before. To detect differences in sub-groups, unadjusted odds ratios (OR) were calculated, and a multivariate analysis for knowledge on HIV/HEP/STI was performed.
Results
The final sample included 569 participants of whom 57 % were men. Most participants originated from Western and Central sub-Saharan Africa. Median time living in Germany was 6 years. Overall, 28 % had a university degree and 54 % reported a good level of German language. Over 80 % knew the risks for HIV transmission. A total of 44 % of respondents wrongly assumed that an HIV-diagnosis might lead to deportation and 64 % were not aware of the free and anonymous local HIV/STI-testing service. The proportion of participants with knowledge of presented facts on HEP varied from 40-58 %. The respective proportion on STI was 28-68 % and better among women compared to men (44 % vs. 54 %; OR = 1.45; 95 % CI 1.22-1.74). Men reported more often casual sex partners than women (43 % vs. 23 %; OR = 2.6; 95 % CI 1.7-4.0), and more frequently a previous STI (58 % vs. 39 %; OR = 2.1; 95 % CI 1.1-4.1). Overall, 16 % of women reported a history of sexual violence. The majority of respondents (75 %) reported that they would treat PLWH like any other person.
Conclusion
Study participants demonstrated good knowledge on HIV-transmission but knowledge gaps regarding HIV/STI-testing services, HEP and STI. This calls for targeted interventions providing more information about these topics in African communities in Hamburg and possibly also elsewhere.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12889-015-2098-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12889-015-2098-2
PMCID: PMC4545823  PMID: 26246382
Migrants from sub-Saharan Africa; KABP; Community-based participatory research; HIV; Viral hepatitis; STI
16.  Comparing databases: determinants of sexually transmitted infections, HIV diagnoses, and lack of HIV testing among men who have sex with men 
BMC Public Health  2015;15:1114.
Background
Early detection and treatment of STI/HIV are public health priorities. Our objective was to compare characteristics of men who have sex with men (MSM) in Dutch data available in 2010 from EMIS, an international internet survey, Schorer Monitor, a Dutch internet survey, and data from STI- clinic visits, since these might be subject to different and unknown biases.
Methods
Data from Dutch MSM Internet Surveys (EMISNLN = 3,787; Schorer Monitor, SMON N = 3,602), and 3,800 STI clinic visits (SOAP) were combined into one dataset. We included factors that were measured in all three databases. The socio-demographics included were age (at the time of the survey), zip code, and ethnicity. Behavioural variables included were the number of sexual partners, condom use with last sexual partner, drug use, being diagnosed with STI, being diagnosed with HIV, and HIV testing. Outcomes we investigated were being diagnosed with STI, HIV, and never been tested for HIV.
Results
Logistic regressions showed that determinants for being diagnosed with STI were having more sexual partners, drug use, and having had an HIV test (aORs 1.3 to 17.1) in EMIS and SMON. Determinants for being diagnosed with HIV in all three databases were older age, living in Amsterdam, and having more partners (aORs 1.8 to 4.4). In EMIS and SMON, drug use, non-condom use, and having STI were additional determinants (aORs 1.6 to 8.9). Finally, determinants associated with never been tested for HIV were being younger (only SOAP), living outside of Amsterdam, having fewer partners, no drug use, and no STI (aORs 0.2 to 0.8).
Conclusions
Risk factors from internet surveys were largely similar, but differed from STI clinics, possibly because it involves self-reports rather than diagnoses or because of differences in timing. The difference between the internet surveys and STI clinic data is much less pronounced for having never been tested, suggesting both are appropriate for this outcome. These findings shed light on conclusions drawn from different data sources, as well as the comparability of recruitment strategies, the robustness of risk factors, consequences of phrasing questions differently, and on (policy) implications based on different data sources.
doi:10.1186/s12889-015-2445-3
PMCID: PMC4643504  PMID: 26563102
Men who have sex with men (MSM); STI; HIV; HIV testing; Sampling methods
17.  Use of AUDIT, and measures of drinking frequency and patterns to detect associations between alcohol and sexual behaviour in male sex workers in Kenya 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:384.
Background
Previous research has linked alcohol use with an increased number of sexual partners, inconsistent condom use and a raised incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). However, alcohol measures have been poorly standardised, with many ill-suited to eliciting, with adequate precision, the relationship between alcohol use and sexual risk behaviour. This study investigates which alcohol indicator - single-item measures of frequency and patterns of drinking ( > = 6 drinks on 1 occasion), or the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) - can detect associations between alcohol use and unsafe sexual behaviour among male sex workers.
Methods
A cross-sectional survey in 2008 recruited male sex workers who sell sex to men from 65 venues in Mombasa district, Kenya, similar to a 2006 survey. Information was collected on socio-demographics, substance use, sexual behaviour, violence and STI symptoms. Multivariate models examined associations between the three measures of alcohol use and condom use, sexual violence, and penile or anal discharge.
Results
The 442 participants reported a median 2 clients/week (IQR = 1-3), with half using condoms consistently in the last 30 days. Of the approximately 70% of men who drink alcohol, half (50.5%) drink two or more times a week. Binge drinking was common (38.9%). As defined by AUDIT, 35% of participants who drink had hazardous drinking, 15% harmful drinking and 21% alcohol dependence. Compared with abstinence, alcohol dependence was associated with inconsistent condom use (AOR = 2.5, 95%CI = 1.3-4.6), penile or anal discharge (AOR = 1.9, 95%CI = 1.0-3.8), and two-fold higher odds of sexual violence (AOR = 2.0, 95%CI = 0.9-4.9). Frequent drinking was associated with inconsistent condom use (AOR = 1.8, 95%CI = 1.1-3.0) and partner number, while binge drinking was only linked with inconsistent condom use (AOR = 1.6, 95%CI = 1.0-2.5).
Conclusions
Male sex workers have high levels of hazardous and harmful drinking, and require alcohol-reduction interventions. Compared with indicators of drinking frequency or pattern, the AUDIT measure has stronger associations with inconsistent condom use, STI symptoms and sexual violence. Increased use of the AUDIT tool in future studies may assist in delineating with greater precision the explanatory mechanisms which link alcohol use, drinking contexts, sexual behaviours and HIV transmission.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-384
PMCID: PMC3128017  PMID: 21609499
alcohol; sexual behaviour; Kenya; indicators; men who have sex with men; sex worker
18.  Sexual HIV risk behaviour and associated factors among pregnant women in Mpumalanga, South Africa 
Background
The HIV risk increases during pregnancy. The elevated risk of HIV acquisition in pregnant women may be explained by behavioural and other factors. The aim of this study was to assess sexual HIV risk behaviour and its associated factors among pregnant women in Mpumalanga, South Africa.
Methods
A cross-sectional study was conducted among 1 502 pregnant women (age range 18–47 years, mean age 26.6 years, standard deviation (SD) 6.1, and the mean gestational age was 6.5 months (SD 1.6). Antenatal women were selected, using systematic sampling from 63 primary care clinics and community health centres in Nkangala District. Data were collected by using a structured questionnaire and multivariate logistic regression analysis was used.
Results
The majority (63%) of the participants had never used a condom with their primary sexual partner in the past 3 months, 60% were not aware of the HIV status of their sexual partner, 7.6% had a casual sexual partner in the past 3 months, 20% had two or more sexual partners in the past 12 months and 17.3% reported to have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) (other than HIV) in the past 12 months. The various HIV risk behaviours were predicted, by being single and alcohol use for multiple sexual partners; by fewer antenatal visits, being HIV negative and not having used alcohol for lack of condom use; by being HIV positive, having experienced physical partner violence and psychological distress for having been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (other than HIV); and by lower education, unplanned pregnancy, non-antenatal care attendance by expectant father, the belief that antiretrovirals can cure HIV and being HIV positive for having a partner with HIV positve or unknown status.
Conclusion
High levels of sexual HIV risk behaviour were found during pregnancy. Pregnant women need to be informed of their increased risk of HIV and the importance of sexual HIV risk reduction including the use of condoms throughout pregnancy.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-57
PMCID: PMC3599185  PMID: 23510451
19.  Correlates of ever had sex among perinatally HIV-infected adolescents in Uganda 
Reproductive Health  2015;12:96.
Background
The objective of this study was to explore the correlates of ever had sex among perinatally HIV-infected (PHIV) adolescents.
Methods
A cross-sectional survey of sexual behaviour was conducted with 624 PHIV adolescents living three regions (12 districts) of Uganda. Data was collected on socio demographic characteristics (age, sex, occupation, religion and education status), sexual practices and behaviours (Intimate relationships, sexual intercourse, age of sexual debut, condom use, multiple and concurrent sexual partners), consequences of sexual behaviours (pregnancy and STI’s) and life style factors (use of alcohol, psychoactive substances and peer influence). Multivariable logistic-regression was used to ascertain the determinants of sexual activity.
Results
The majority of PHIV were female (59.3 %) and the mean age of the sample was 16.2 (±2.1) years. The mean age of sexual debut was 15.8 years; 16.2 % (101/624) reported symptoms for sexually transmitted infections (STI) and more than a third (213/624) reported ever had sex.Of these 76.5 % (165/213) used condoms inconsistently; and 49.3 % (105/213) had been pregnant or made someone pregnant. Of those in relationships, 56.3 % (223/396) did not disclose and were not aware of their partners’ HIV status. Adolescents aged 15–19 years were more likely to have ever been sexually active (Adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 6.28, 95 % Confidence interval (CI): 2.63-14.99) compared to those aged 10–14 years. Adolescents who were living alone were more likely to have ever been sexually active compared to those living with one or both parents (AOR 4.33, 95 % CI: 1.13-16.62). The odds of being sexually active were lower among adolescents in school compared to those out of school (AOR 0.2, 95 % CI: 0.13-0.30), who had never been treated for STI (compared to those who had never been treated for STI) (AOR 0.19, 95 % 0.11-0.32) and adolescents who never drank alcohol (AOR 0.49, 95 % CI 0.28-0.87).
Conclusion
PHIV adolescents have risky sexual behaviours characterized by being sexually active, inconsistent condom use, and having partners of unknown status. Risk reduction interventions are required to minimize unplanned pregnancies, STI, and HIV transmission by PHIV adolescents.
doi:10.1186/s12978-015-0082-z
PMCID: PMC4609043  PMID: 26475268
HIV; Perinatally infected; Adolescents; Risky sexual behaviour; Adolescents; Uganda
20.  Is use of antiretroviral therapy among homosexual men associated with increased risk of transmission of HIV infection? 
Background/objective: There is concern that use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) may be linked to increased sexual risk behaviour among homosexual men. We investigated sexual risk behaviour in HIV positive homosexual men and the relation between use of HAART and risk of HIV transmission.
Methods: A cross sectional study of 420 HIV positive homosexual men attending a London outpatient clinic. Individual data were collected from computer assisted self interview, STI screening, and clinical and laboratory databases.
Results: Among all men, sexual behaviour associated with a high risk of HIV transmission was commonly reported. The most frequently reported type of partnership was casual partners only, and 22% reported unprotected anal intercourse with one or more new partners in the past month. Analysis of crude data showed that men on HAART had fewer sexual partners (median 9 versus 20, p=0.28), less unprotected anal intercourse (for example, 36% versus 27% had insertive unprotected anal intercourse with a new partner in the past year, p=0.03) and fewer acute sexually transmitted infections (33% versus 19%, p=0.004 in the past 12 months) than men not on HAART. Self assessed health status was similar between the two groups: 72% on HAART and 75% not on HAART rated their health as very or fairly good, (p=0.55). In multivariate analysis, differences in sexual risk behaviour between men on HAART and men not on HAART were attenuated by adjustment for age, time since HIV infection. CD4 count and self assessed health status.
Conclusion: HIV positive homosexual men attending a London outpatient clinic commonly reported sexual behaviour with a high risk of HIV transmission. However, behavioural and clinical risk factors for HIV transmission were consistently lower in men on HAART than men not on HAART. Although use of HAART by homosexual men with generally good health is not associated with higher risk behaviours, effective risk reduction interventions targeting known HIV positive homosexual men are still urgently needed.
doi:10.1136/sti.79.1.7
PMCID: PMC1744584  PMID: 12576605
21.  Intimate partner violence perpetration, standard and gendered STI/HIV risk behaviour, and STI/HIV diagnosis among a clinic-based sample of men 
Sexually transmitted infections  2009;85(7):555-560.
Background
The estimated one in three women worldwide victimised by intimate partner violence (IPV) consistently demonstrate elevated STI/HIV prevalence, with their abusive male partners’ risky sexual behaviours and subsequent infection increasingly implicated. To date, little empirical data exist to characterise the nature of men's sexual risk as it relates to both their violence perpetration, and STI/HIV infection.
Methods
Data from a cross-sectional survey of men ages 18–35 recruited from three community-based health clinics in an urban metropolitan area of the northeastern US (n = 1585) were analysed to estimate the prevalence of IPV perpetration and associations of such violent behaviour with both standard (eg, anal sex, injection drug use) and gendered (eg, coercive condom practices, sexual infidelity, transactional sex with a female partner) forms of sexual-risk behaviour, and self-reported STI/HIV diagnosis.
Results
Approximately one-third of participants (32.7%) reported perpetrating physical or sexual violence against a female intimate partner in their lifetime; one in eight (12.4%) participants self-reported a history of STI/HIV diagnosis. Men's IPV perpetration was associated with both standard and gendered STI/HIV risk behaviours, and to STI/HIV diagnosis (OR 4.85, 95% CI 3.54 to 6.66). The association of men's IPV perpetration with STI/HIV diagnosis was partially attenuated (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 2.55, 95% CI 1.77 to 3.67) in the multivariate model, and a subset of gendered sexual-risk behaviours were found to be independently associated with STI/HIV diagnosis—for example, coercive condom practices (AOR 1.67, 95% CI 1.04 to 2.69), sexual infidelity (AOR 2.46, 95% CI 1.65 to 3.68), and transactional sex with a female partner (AOR 2.03, 95% CI 1.36 to 3.04).
Conclusions
Men's perpetration of physical and sexual violence against intimate partners is common among this population. Abusive men are at increased risk for STI/HIV, with gendered forms of sexual-risk behaviour partially responsible for this association. Thus, such men likely pose an elevated infection risk to their female partners. Findings indicate the need for interwoven sexual health promotion and violence prevention efforts targeted to men; critical to such efforts may be reduction in gendered sexual-risk behaviours and modification of norms of masculinity that likely promote both sexual risk and violence
doi:10.1136/sti.2009.036368
PMCID: PMC3623286  PMID: 19625287
22.  Intimate partner violence perpetration, standard and gendered STI/HIV risk behaviour, and STI/HIV diagnosis among a clinic-based sample of men 
Sexually Transmitted Infections  2009;85(7):555-560.
Background:
The estimated one in three women worldwide victimised by intimate partner violence (IPV) consistently demonstrate elevated STI/HIV prevalence, with their abusive male partners’ risky sexual behaviours and subsequent infection increasingly implicated. To date, little empirical data exist to characterise the nature of men’s sexual risk as it relates to both their violence perpetration, and STI/HIV infection.
Methods:
Data from a cross-sectional survey of men ages 18–35 recruited from three community-based health clinics in an urban metropolitan area of the northeastern US (n = 1585) were analysed to estimate the prevalence of IPV perpetration and associations of such violent behaviour with both standard (eg, anal sex, injection drug use) and gendered (eg, coercive condom practices, sexual infidelity, transactional sex with a female partner) forms of sexual-risk behaviour, and self-reported STI/HIV diagnosis.
Results:
Approximately one-third of participants (32.7%) reported perpetrating physical or sexual violence against a female intimate partner in their lifetime; one in eight (12.4%) participants self-reported a history of STI/HIV diagnosis. Men’s IPV perpetration was associated with both standard and gendered STI/HIV risk behaviours, and to STI/HIV diagnosis (OR 4.85, 95% CI 3.54 to 6.66). The association of men’s IPV perpetration with STI/HIV diagnosis was partially attenuated (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 2.55, 95% CI 1.77 to 3.67) in the multivariate model, and a subset of gendered sexual-risk behaviours were found to be independently associated with STI/HIV diagnosis—for example, coercive condom practices (AOR 1.67, 95% CI 1.04 to 2.69), sexual infidelity (AOR 2.46, 95% CI 1.65 to 3.68), and transactional sex with a female partner (AOR 2.03, 95% CI 1.36 to 3.04).
Conclusions:
Men’s perpetration of physical and sexual violence against intimate partners is common among this population. Abusive men are at increased risk for STI/HIV, with gendered forms of sexual-risk behaviour partially responsible for this association. Thus, such men likely pose an elevated infection risk to their female partners. Findings indicate the need for interwoven sexual health promotion and violence prevention efforts targeted to men; critical to such efforts may be reduction in gendered sexual-risk behaviours and modification of norms of masculinity that likely promote both sexual risk and violence
doi:10.1136/sti.2009.036368
PMCID: PMC3623286  PMID: 19625287
23.  Five-year monitoring of a gay-friendly voluntary counselling and testing facility in Switzerland: who got tested and why? 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:422.
Background
An increase in new HIV cases among men who have sex with men (MSM) has been reported in Switzerland since 2001. A rapid result HIV testing for MSM through voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) facility (“Checkpoint”) was opened in Geneva in 2005. This gay-friendly facility, the first to open in Switzerland, provides testing for sexually transmitted infections (STI) and rapid result HIV testing and counselling. Our objective was to analyze Checkpoint’s activity over its first five years of activity and its ability to attract at-risk MSM.
Methods
We used routine data collected anonymously about the facility activity (number of clients, number of tests, and test results) and about the characteristics of the clientele (sociodemographic data, sexual risk behaviour, and reasons for testing) from 2005 to 2009.
Results
The yearly number of HIV tests performed increased from 249 in 2005 to 561 in 2009. The annual proportion of positive tests among tests performed varied between 2% and 3%. Among MSM clients, the median annual number of anal intercourse (AI) partners was three. Roughly 30% of all MSM clients had at least one unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) experience in the previous 12 months with a partner of different/unknown HIV status.
The main reason for testing in 2007, 2008, and 2009 was “sexual risk exposure” (~40%), followed by “routine” testing (~30%) and “condom stopping in the beginning of a new steady relationship” (~10%). Clients who came to the facility after a sexual risk exposure, compared to clients who came for "routine testing" or "condom stopping" reasons, had the highest number of AI partners in the previous 12 months, were more likely to have had UAI with a partner of different/unknown HIV status in the previous 12 months (respectively 57.3%, 12.5%, 23.5%), more likely to have had an STI diagnosed in the past (41.6%, 32.2%, 22.9%), and more likely to report recent feelings of sadness or depression (42.6%; 32.8%, 18.5%).
Conclusion
Many of Checkpoint's clients reported elevated sexual risk exposure and risk factors, and the annual proportion of new HIV cases in the facility is stable. This VCT facility attracts the intended population and appears to be a useful tool contributing to the fight against the HIV epidemic among MSM in Switzerland.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-422
PMCID: PMC3487742  PMID: 22682345
Anonymous HIV counselling and testing; Homosexuality; Gay-friendly facility; Monitoring; Switzerland
24.  Gender relations, sexual behaviour, and risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections among women in union in Uganda 
BMC Public Health  2016;16:440.
Background
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a major reproductive and public health concern, especially in the era of HIV/AIDS. This study examined the relationship between sexual empowerment and STI status of women in union (married or cohabiting) in Uganda, controlling for sexual behaviour, partner factors, and women’s background characteristics.
Methods
The study, based on data from the 2011 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS), analysed 1307 weighted cases of women age 15–49 in union and selected for the domestic violence module. Chi-squared tests and multivariate logistic regressions were used to examine the predicators of STI status. The main explanatory variables included sexual empowerment, involvement in decision making on own health, experience of any sexual violence, condom use during last sex with most recent partner, number of lifetime partners and partner control behaviours. Sexual empowerment was measured with three indicators: a woman’s reported ability to refuse sex, ability to ask her partner to use a condom, and opinion regarding whether a woman is justified to refuse sex with her husband if he is unfaithful.
Results
Results show that 28 % of women in union reported STIs in the last 12 months. Sexual violence and number of lifetime partners were the strongest predictors of reporting STIs. Women’s sexual empowerment was a significant predictor of their STI status, but, surprisingly, the odds of reporting STIs were greater among women who were sexually empowered. Reporting of STIs was negatively associated with a woman’s participation in decision-making with respect to her own health, and was positively associated with experience of sexual violence, partner’s controlling behaviour, and having more than one life partner.
Conclusions
Our findings suggest that, with respect to STIs, sexual empowerment as measured in the study does not protect women who have sexually violent and controlling partners. Interventions promoting sexual health must effectively address negative masculine attitudes and roles that perpetuate unhealthy sexual behaviours and gender relations within marriage. It is also important to promote marital fidelity and better communication within union and to encourage women to take charge of their health jointly with their partners.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12889-016-3103-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12889-016-3103-0
PMCID: PMC4881206  PMID: 27229928
Sexual empowerment; Partner behaviours; STIs; Uganda
25.  Gender differences in sexual risk behaviours and sexually transmissible infections among adolescents in mental health treatment 
Sexual health  2012;9(3):240-246.
Background
Adolescents with a history of psychiatric disorder(s) are particularly vulnerable to contracting sexually transmissible infections (STIs) as a result of psychological and emotional states associated with higher rates of risky sexual behaviour. The present study examined gender differences in sexual risk behaviours and STI among adolescents in mental health treatment.
Methods
Three hundred and seventy nine sexually active adolescents, aged 13–18 years, from a larger multisite study, who received mental health treatment during the past year, completed an audio computer-assisted self interview assessing sociodemographics, psychiatric symptomatology and HIV/STI risk behaviours, and provided urine specimens tested for STI.
Results
After controlling for covariates, multivariate logistic regression models indicated that female adolescents were more likely to have had an HIV test (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 3.2, P = 0.0001), obtain their HIV test results (AOR = 2.9, P = 0.03), refuse sex out of fear for STI acquisition (AOR = 1.7, P = 0.04), or avoid a situation that might lead to sex (AOR = 2.4, P = 0.001), and were less likely to have a casual sex partner (AOR = 0.40, P = 0.002). Additionally, females were more likely to report inconsistent condom use (AOR = 2.60, P = 0.001) and have a STI (AOR = 9.1, P = 0.0001) than their male counterparts.
Conclusions
Female adolescents receiving mental health treatment were more than nine times as likely to have an STI and more likely to use condoms inconsistently. The standard of care for mental health practice for adolescents should include referrals for STI screening and treatment as well as assessment and discussion of risky sexual behaviours as part of the treatment plan when indicated. Effective programs should address gender-specific communication and behavioural skills.
doi:10.1071/SH10098
PMCID: PMC4452011  PMID: 22697141
risky sexual behaviour

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