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1.  The role of intent in serosorting behaviors among MSM sexual partnerships 
Journal of acquired immune deficiency syndromes (1999)  2013;64(3):10.1097/QAI.0b013e3182a0e880.
Background
Serosorting is increasingly assessed in studies of MSM. Most research studies have measured serosorting by combining reported unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) and the occurrence of participant and partner same HIV status (seroconcordance). The CDC definition of serosorting also incorporates intent to be in such a partnership, although few studies incorporate both intent and behavior into their measures.
Methods
Using data from a national, online survey of 3,519 US MSM, we assessed the role of intention in seroconcordant partnerships, as measured by participant rating of the importance of shared serostatus when selecting a sex partner.
Results
For HIV+ men, 30% of partnerships were seroconcordant; of these, 48% reported intent to be in such a partnership (intentional seroconcordance). For HIV− men, 64% of partnerships were seroconcordant; of these, 80% reported intentional seroconcordance. Intentional seroconcordance was associated with UAI for HIV+ partnerships (OR 1.9; CI: 1.3, 2.9), but not significant for HIV− partnerships (OR 1.1; CI: 0.99, 1.3). In separate models where intent was not considered, seroconcordance was associated with UAI for HIV+ partnerships (odds ratio (OR) 3.2; 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.2, 4.6) and for HIV− partnerships (OR 1.2; CI: 1.0, 1.3; p = 0.03).
Conclusions
Regardless of intentionality, seroconcordance was strongly associated with UAI for HIV+ men and weakly associated with UAI for HIV− men. Intentional seroconcordance was not associated with UAI more strongly than was seroconcordance in absence of consideration of intent. Intentionality may not be a critical element of the relationship between seroconcordance and UAI.
doi:10.1097/QAI.0b013e3182a0e880
PMCID: PMC3839244  PMID: 23846562
HIV prevention; MSM; serosorting; measurement
2.  Serosorting Is Associated with a Decreased Risk of HIV Seroconversion in the EXPLORE Study Cohort 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(9):e12662.
Background
Seroadaptation strategies such as serosorting and seropositioning originated within communities of men who have sex with men (MSM), but there are limited data about their effectiveness in preventing HIV transmission when utilized by HIV-negative men.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Data from the EXPLORE cohort of HIV-negative MSM who reported both seroconcordant and serodiscordant partners were used to evaluate serosorting and seropositioning. The association of serosorting and seropositioning with HIV seroconversion was evaluated in this cohort of high risk MSM from six U.S. cities. Serosorting was independently associated with a small decrease in risk of HIV seroconversion (OR = 0.88; 95%CI, 0.81–0.95), even among participants reporting ≥10 partners. Those who more consistently practiced serosorting were more likely to be white (p = 0.01), have completed college (p = <0.0002) and to have had 10 or more partners in the six months before the baseline visit (p = 0.01) but did not differ in age, reporting HIV-infected partners, or drug use. There was no evidence of a seroconversion effect with seropositioning (OR 1.02, 95%CI, 0.92–1.14).
Significance
In high risk HIV uninfected MSM who report unprotected anal intercourse with both seroconcordant and serodiscordant partners, serosorting was associated with a modest decreased risk of HIV infection. To maximize any potential benefit, it will be important to increase accurate knowledge of HIV status, through increased testing frequency, improved test technology, and continued development of strategies to increase disclosure.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012662
PMCID: PMC2936578  PMID: 20844744
3.  POSITIVE, NEGATIVE, UNKNOWN 
Serosorting (i.e., engaging in unprotected sex with partners known to be of the same serostatus) can be a difficult process for men who have sex with men (MSM) who frequently make assumptions about their partners’ serostatus. This process can be further complicated by a partner’s dishonesty as well as other individual and contextual factors. The present study specifically examined how assumptions of serostatus made about unknown serostatus partners impact on the sexual behavior of 110 alcohol-abusing HIV-positive MSM. Although previous research has shown that HIV-positive MSM are more likely to serosort with other known HIV-positive men than with known HIV-negative men, our data suggest that unprotected sex behavior may not be specifically driven by whether or not they made assumptions of seroconcordance or serodiscordance. The types of assumptions these HIV-positive MSM made about their unknown status sexual partners and the basis for such assumptions were also examined. Owing to the ambiguities involved in assumptions of a partner’s serostatus in sexual encounters, the “unknown status” partner category is analytically distinct from “known status” categories, and needs to be more fully explored because of its impact on perceived serosorting, rather than actual serosorting, among HIV-positive men.
doi:10.1521/aeap.2006.18.2.139
PMCID: PMC1994777  PMID: 16649959
4.  HIV Transmission Risk among HIV Seroconcordant and Serodiscordant Couples: Dyadic Processes of Partner Selection 
AIDS and behavior  2008;13(2):185-195.
Selecting sex partners of the same HIV status or serosorting is a sexual risk reduction strategy used by many men who have sex with men. However, the effectiveness of serosorting for protection against HIV is potentially limited. We sought to examine how men perceive the protective benefits of factors related to serosorting including beliefs about engaging in serosorting, sexual communication, and perceptions of risk for HIV. Participants were 94 HIV negative seroconcordant (same HIV status) couples, 20 HIV serodiscordant (discrepant HIV status) couples, and 13 HIV positive seroconcordant (same HIV status) couples recruited from a large gay pride festival in the southeastern US. To account for nonindependence found in the couple-level data, we used multilevel modeling which includes dyad in the analysis. Findings demonstrated that participants in seroconcordant relationships were more likely to believe that serosorting reduces concerns for condom use. HIV negative participants in seroconcordant relationships viewed themselves at relatively low risk for HIV transmission even though monogamy within relationships and HIV testing were infrequent. Dyadic analyses demonstrated that partners have a substantial effect on an individual’s beliefs and number of unprotected sex partners. We conclude that relationship partners are an important source of influence and, thus, intervening with partners is necessary to reduce HIV transmission risks.
doi:10.1007/s10461-008-9480-3
PMCID: PMC2937197  PMID: 18953645
HIV; serosorting; MSM; dyad; multilevel modeling
5.  Do Safer Sex Self-Efficacy, Attitudes toward Condoms, and HIV Transmission Risk Beliefs Differ among Men who have Sex with Men, Heterosexual Men, and Women Living with HIV? 
AIDS and behavior  2013;17(5):1873-1882.
To understand sexual decision-making processes among people living with HIV, we compared safer sex self-efficacy, condom attitudes, sexual beliefs, and rates of unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse with at-risk partners (UAVI-AR) in the past 3 months among 476 people living with HIV: 185 men who have sex with men (MSM), 130 heterosexual men, and 161 heterosexual women. Participants were enrolled in SafeTalk, a randomized, controlled trial of a safer sex intervention. We found 15% of MSM, 9% of heterosexual men, and 12% of heterosexual women engaged in UAVI-AR. Groups did not differ in self-efficacy or sexual attitudes/beliefs. However, the associations between these variables and UAVI-AR varied within groups: greater self-efficacy predicted less UAVI-AR for MSM and women, whereas more positive condom attitudes – but not self-efficacy – predicted less UAVI-AR for heterosexual men. These results suggest HIV prevention programs should tailor materials to different subgroups.
doi:10.1007/s10461-011-0108-7
PMCID: PMC3657340  PMID: 22252475
HIV transmission risk behavior; self-efficacy; safer sex attitudes; condom attitudes; sexual behavior
6.  Psychosocial Characteristics and Sexual Behaviors of People in Care for HIV Infection: An Examination of Men Who Have Sex with Men, Heterosexual Men and Women 
AIDS and behavior  2009;13(6):1129-1142.
Few studies have examined the psychosocial factors associated with sexual transmission behaviors among HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM), heterosexual men (MSW) and women. We enrolled 1,050 sexually active HIV-positive patients at seven HIV clinics in six US cities as part of a clinic-based behavioral intervention. We describe the sexual transmission behaviors and examine demographic, clinical, psychosocial, and clinic prevention variables associated with unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse (UAVI). Twenty-three percent of MSM, 12.3% of MSW and 27.8% of women engaged in UAVI with partners perceived to be HIV-negative or of unknown serostatus. Among MSM and MSW, having multiple partners and lower self-efficacy were associated with increased odds of UAVI. Self-rating one’s health status as excellent/very good was a risk factor for UAVI among MSM. Among women, binge drinking and stressful life events were associated with UAVI. These findings identify variables that warrant attention in targeted interventions.
doi:10.1007/s10461-009-9613-3
PMCID: PMC3782535  PMID: 19763810
HIV; HIV prevention; Sexual behavior; STDs; STD prevention
7.  Evidence for the Long-Term Stability of HIV Transmission-Associated Sexual Behavior Following HIV Diagnosis 
Sexually transmitted diseases  2013;40(1):41-45.
Background
Most persons diagnosed with HIV alter their sexual behavior in a way that reduces the risk of HIV transmission, but the durability of such behavior change is unknown.
Methods
We conducted annual anonymous cross-sectional surveys in randomly selected patients with appointments at a large, public hospital HIV Clinic in Seattle, Washington from 2005 to 2009. We used logistic regression to assess the association between time since HIV diagnosis and self-report of unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse (UAVI) with partners of negative or unknown HIV status (nonconcordant UAVI), and quantile regression to evaluate the association between time since HIV diagnosis and number of anal or vaginal sex partners.
Results
We analyzed 845 surveys collected over 5 years. MSM had been diagnosed with HIV a mean of 12 (SD 7) years and non-MSM a mean of 11 (SD 6) years. Among 597 MSM, longer time since HIV diagnosis was associated with lower age-adjusted odds of reporting nonconcordant UAVI [(OR 0.96 (95% CI: 0.92 – 0.99)] and a lower age-adjusted number of sex partners (β coefficient −0.03, p=0.007). Among 248 women and heterosexual men, time since HIV diagnosis was not significantly associated with age-adjusted odds of nonconcordant UAVI [OR 0.99 (95% CI: 0.93 – 1.04)] or number of sex partners (β coefficient −0.01, p=0.48).
Conclusions
These results indicate that HIV transmission-associated behavior is relatively stable following the first year after HIV diagnosis. Our findings suggest that behavior change in the first year after HIV diagnosis, reported in other studies, is durable.
doi:10.1097/OLQ.0b013e3182753327
PMCID: PMC4150917  PMID: 23254116
Sexual Behavior; HIV Infections/psychology; Homosexuality, male; Substance-Related Disorders/complications
8.  Men having sex with men serosorting with casual partners: who, how much, and what risk factors in Switzerland, 2007-2009 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:839.
Background
Serosorting is practiced by men who have sex with men (MSM) to reduce human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission. This study evaluates the prevalence of serosorting with casual partners, and analyses the characteristics and estimated numbers of serosorters in Switzerland 2007-2009.
Methods
Data were extracted from cross-sectional surveys conducted in 2007 and 2009 among self-selected MSM recruited online, through gay newspapers, and through gay organizations. Nested models were fitted to ascertain the appropriateness of pooling the datasets. Multiple logistic regression analysis was performed on pooled data to determine the association between serosorting and demographic, lifestyle-related, and health-related factors. Extrapolations were performed by applying proportions of various types of serosorters to Swiss population data collected in 2007.
Results
A significant and stable number of MSM (approximately 39% in 2007 and 2009) intentionally engage in serosorting with casual partners in Switzerland. Variables significantly associated with serosorting were: gay organization membership (aOR = 1.67), frequent internet use for sexual encounters (aOR = 1.71), having had a sexually transmitted infection (STI) at any time in the past 12 months (aOR = 1.70), HIV-positive status (aOR = 0.52), regularly frequenting sex-on-premises venues (aOR = 0.42), and unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) with partners of different or unknown HIV status in the past 12 months (aOR = 0.22). Approximately one-fifth of serosorters declared HIV negativity without being tested in the past 12 months; 15.8% reported not knowing their own HIV status.
Conclusion
The particular risk profile of serosorters having UAI with casual partners (multiple partners, STI history, and inadequate testing frequency) requires specific preventive interventions tailored to HIV status.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-839
PMCID: PMC3848594  PMID: 24025364
Sexual risk behaviour; Men who have sex with men; Serosorting; HIV; Switzerland
9.  Serosorting Sexual Partners and Continued Risk for HIV Transmission among Men who have Sex with Men 
Objective
The purpose of the current study was to assess whether or not men who have sex with men who limit their unprotected anal sexual partners to those who are of the same HIV status (serosort) differ in their risk for HIV transmission than MSM who do not serosort.
Methods
Cross-sectional surveys administered at a large gay pride festival (80% response rate) were collected from MSM. Univariate and multivariate logistic regressions were used to identify predictors of serosorting.
Results
Participants were self-identified as HIV negative MSM (N=628), about one third of whom engaged in serosorting (n=229). Men who serosort were more likely to believe that serosorting offered protection against HIV transmission, perceived themselves as being at no relatively higher risk for HIV transmission, and had more unprotected anal intercourse partners. Over half the sample reported their frequency of HIV testing as yearly or less frequently; this finding did not differ between serosorters and non-serosorters.
Conclusions
Men who identify as HIV negative and serosort are no more likely to know their HIV status than men who do not serosort and are at higher risk for exposure to HIV. Interventions targeting MSM must address the limitations of serosorting.
doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2007.08.004
PMCID: PMC3151147  PMID: 18022064
10.  Serosorting and sexual risk behaviour according to different casual partnership types among MSM: The study of one-night stands and sex buddies 
AIDS care  2011;24(2):167-173.
Among HIV-negative men who have sex with men (MSM), any incident of unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) between casual partners is usually regarded as risky for HIV transmission. However, men are increasingly using knowledge of their casual partner’s HIV-status to reduce HIV risk during UAI (i.e., serosorting). Since familiarity between casual partners may lead to higher levels of UAI and serosorting, we examined how often men have UAI and practice serosorting with three types of casual partnerships that differ in their degree of familiarity.
We included 240 HIV-negative men of the Amsterdam Cohort Study among MSM. We distinguished three types of casual partnerships: one-night stand (‘met by chance and had sex only once’); multiple-time casual partner (‘met and had sex with several times’); and the ‘regular’ casual partner (‘sex buddy’). Serosorting was defined as UAI with an HIV-concordant partner. GEE analyses were used to examine the association between type of casual partnership and sexual risk behaviour.
Analyses revealed that men with a sex buddy were more likely to have UAI than men with a one-night stand (OR[95%CI] 2.39 [1.39–4.09]). However, men with a sex buddy were also more likely to practice serosorting than men with a one-night stand (OR[95%CI] 5.20 [1.20–22.52]).
Men with a sex buddy had more UAI but also reported more serosorting than men with a one-night stand. As a result, the proportion of UAI without serosorting is lower for men with a sex buddy, and therefore men might have less UAI at risk for HIV with this partner type. However, the protective value of serosorting with a sex buddy against HIV transmission needs to be further established. At this time, we suggest that a distinction between the one-night stand and the sex buddy should be incorporated in future studies as men behave significantly different with the two partner types.
doi:10.1080/09540121.2011.603285
PMCID: PMC3561689  PMID: 21861633
men who have sex with men; serosorting; sexual behaviour; risk reduction behaviour; types of casual partnerships; unprotected anal intercourse
11.  Knowing the Consequences of Unprotected Sex with Seroconcordant Partner Is Associated with Increased Safer Sex Intentions among HIV-positive Men in Kathmandu, Nepal 
Unprotected sexual intercourse among HIV-positive people can adversely affect their own health by increasing their exposure to multiple strains of HIV-1 or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The study explored the relationship between knowledge of Nepalese HIV-positive men about the consequences of having unprotected sex with seroconcordant partners and their intention to practise safer sex with such partners. In total, 166 participants recruited conveniently in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal, were interviewed. Each participant reported intention to practise safer sex with seroconcordant partners, know-ledge about the consequences of having unprotected sex with seroconcordant partners, perceived partner-related barriers to condom-use, belief that condoms interfere with sex, and condom-use self-efficacy. Of the 166 participants, 50.6% intended to practise safer sex every time they have sex with seroconcordant partners. Results of multiple logistic regression analysis showed that the participants who were aware of the possibility of HIV superinfection [adjusted odds ratio (AOR)=2.93, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.16-7.34, p=0.022)] or that the presence of STIs in HIV-positive persons increases progression of HIV disease (AOR=2.80, 95% CI 1.08-7.26, p=0.033) were more likely to intend to practise safer sex with seroconcordant partners. Similarly, the participants who were employed or who had lower levels of belief that condoms interfere with sex were more likely to intend to practise safer sex. The findings suggest that improving the knowledge of HIV-positive persons about the consequences of having unprotected sex with seroconcordant partners might improve their intention to practise safer sex with such partners.
PMCID: PMC3131119  PMID: 21766554
HIV infections; Intention; Knowledge; Knowledge, attitudes, practices; Perceptions; Safe sex; Sexual behaviour; Nepal
12.  Bacterial Vaginosis Associated with Increased Risk of Female-to-Male HIV-1 Transmission: A Prospective Cohort Analysis among African Couples 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(6):e1001251.
In a prospective study, Craig Cohen and colleagues investigate the association between bacterial vaginosis and the risk of female-to-male HIV-1 transmission.
Background
Bacterial vaginosis (BV), a disruption of the normal vaginal flora, has been associated with a 60% increased risk of HIV-1 acquisition in women and higher concentration of HIV-1 RNA in the genital tract of HIV-1–infected women. However, whether BV, which is present in up to half of African HIV-1–infected women, is associated with an increase in HIV-1 transmission to male partners has not been assessed in previous studies.
Methods and Findings
We assessed the association between BV on female-to-male HIV-1 transmission risk in a prospective study of 2,236 HIV-1–seropositive women and their HIV-1 uninfected male partners from seven African countries from a randomized placebo-controlled trial that enrolled heterosexual African adults who were seropositive for both HIV-1 and herpes simplex virus (HSV)-2, and their HIV-1–seronegative partners. Participants were followed for up to 24 months; every three months, vaginal swabs were obtained from female partners for Gram stain and male partners were tested for HIV-1. BV and normal vaginal flora were defined as a Nugent score of 7–10 and 0–3, respectively. To reduce misclassification, HIV-1 sequence analysis of viruses from seroconverters and their partners was performed to determine linkage of HIV-1 transmissions. Overall, 50 incident HIV-1 infections occurred in men in which the HIV-1–infected female partner had an evaluable vaginal Gram stain. HIV-1 incidence in men whose HIV-1–infected female partners had BV was 2.91 versus 0.76 per 100 person-years in men whose female partners had normal vaginal flora (hazard ratio 3.62, 95% CI 1.74–7.52). After controlling for sociodemographic factors, sexual behavior, male circumcision, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, and plasma HIV-1 RNA levels in female partners, BV was associated with a greater than 3-fold increased risk of female-to-male HIV-1 transmission (adjusted hazard ratio 3.17, 95% CI 1.37–7.33).
Conclusions
This study identified an association between BV and increased risk of HIV-1 transmission to male partners. Several limitations may affect the generalizability of our results including: all participants underwent couples HIV counseling and testing and enrolled in an HIV-1 prevention trial, and index participants had a baseline CD4 count ≥250 cells/mm3 and were HSV-2 seropositive. Given the high prevalence of BV and the association of BV with increased risk of both female HIV-1 acquisition and transmission found in our study, if this association proves to be causal, BV could be responsible for a substantial proportion of new HIV-1 infections in Africa. Normalization of vaginal flora in HIV-1–infected women could mitigate female-to-male HIV-1 transmission.
Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.com NCT00194519
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Since the first reported case of AIDS in 1981, the number of people infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has risen steadily. By the end of 2010, 34 million people were living with HIV/AIDS. At the beginning of the epidemic more men than women were infected with HIV. Now, however, 50% of all adults infected with HIV are women and in sub-Saharan Africa, where two-thirds of HIV-positive people live, women account for 59% of people living with HIV. Moreover, among 15–24 year-olds, women are eight times more likely than men to be HIV-positive. This pattern of infection has developed because most people in sub-Saharan Africa contract HIV through unprotected heterosexual sex. The risk of HIV transmission for both men and women in Africa and elsewhere can be reduced by abstaining from sex, by only having one or a few partners, by always using condoms, and by male circumcision. In addition, several studies suggest that antiretroviral therapy (ART) greatly reduces HIV transmission.
Why Was This Study Done?
Unfortunately, in sub-Saharan Africa, only about a fifth of HIV-positive people are currently receiving ART, which means that there is an urgent need to find other effective ways to reduce HIV transmission in this region. In this prospective cohort study (a type of study that follows a group of people for some time to see which personal characteristics are associated with disease development), the researchers investigate whether bacterial vaginosis—a condition in which harmful bacteria disrupt the normal vaginal flora—increases the risk of female-to-male HIV transmission among African couples. Bacterial vaginosis, which is extremely common in sub-Saharan Africa, has been associated with an increased risk of HIV acquisition in women and induces viral replication and shedding in the vagina in HIV-positive women, which may mean that HIV-positive women with bacterial vaginosis are more likely to transmit HIV to their male partners than women without this condition. If this is the case, then interventions that reduce the incidence of bacterial vaginosis might be valuable HIV prevention strategies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed data collected from 2,236 heterosexual African couples enrolled in a clinical trial (the Partners in Prevention HSV/HIV Transmission Study) whose primary aim was to investigate whether suppression of herpes simplex virus infection could prevent HIV transmission. In all the couples, the woman was HIV-positive and the man was initially HIV-negative. The female partners were examined every three months for the presence of bacterial vaginosis and the male partners were tested regularly for HIV infection. The researchers also determined whether the men who became HIV-positive were infected with the same HIV strain as their partner to check that their infection had been acquired from this partner. The HIV incidence in men whose partners had bacterial vaginosis was 2.9 per 100 person-years (that is, 2.9 out of every 100 men became HIV-positive per year) whereas the HIV incidence in men whose partners had a normal vaginal flora was 0.76 per 100 person-years. After controlling for factors that might affect the risk of HIV transmission such as male circumcision and viral levels in female partner's blood, the researchers estimated that bacterial vaginosis was associated with a 3.17-fold increased risk of female-to-male HIV transmission in their study population.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that HIV-positive African women with bacterial vaginosis are more than three times as likely to transmit HIV to their male partners as those with a normal vaginal flora. It is possible that some unknown characteristic of the men in this study might have increased both their own risk of HIV infection and their partner's risk of bacterial vaginosis. Nevertheless, because bacterial vaginosis is so common in Africa (half of the women in this study had bacterial vaginosis at least once during follow-up) and because this condition is associated with both female HIV acquisition and transmission, these findings suggest that bacterial vaginosis could be responsible for a substantial proportion of new HIV infections in Africa. Normalization of vaginal flora in HIV-infected women by frequent presumptive treatment with antimicrobials (treatment with a curative dose of antibiotics without testing for bacterial vaginosis) or possibly by treatment with probiotics (live “good” bacteria) might, therefore, reduce female-to-male HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001251.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and infectious diseases on all aspects of HIV infection and AIDS and on bacterial vaginosis
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including specific information about HIV/AIDS and women; it also has information on bacterial vaginosis (in English and Spanish)
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS, and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment, and information on bacterial vaginosis and HIV transmission (in several languages)
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS nonprofit group on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including detailed information on HIV and AIDS prevention, on women, HIV and AIDS and on HIV/AIDS in Africa (in English and Spanish); personal stories of women living with HIV are available; the website Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about living with HIV
More information about the Partners in Prevention HSV/HIV Transmission Study is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001251
PMCID: PMC3383741  PMID: 22745608
13.  Failure of Serosorting to Protect African American Men Who Have Sex with Men from HIV Infection 
Sexually transmitted diseases  2012;39(9):659-664.
Background
Serosorting is the practice of choosing sex partners or selectively using condoms based on a sex partner’s perceived HIV status. The extent to which serosorting protects African American (AA) and Hispanic men who have sex with men (MSM) is unknown.
Methods
We analyzed data collected from MSM STD clinic patients in Seattle, WA, 2001–10. Men were asked about the HIV status of their anal sex partners in the prior year and about their condom use with partners by partner HIV status. We defined serosorters as MSM who had unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) only with partners of the same HIV status, and compared the risk of testing HIV positive among serosorters and men who reported having UAI with partners of opposite or unknown HIV status (i.e. nonconcordant UAI). We used generalized estimating equations to evaluate the association of serosorting with testing HIV positive.
Results
A total of 6694 MSM without a prior HIV diagnosis were tested during 13,657 visits; 274 men tested HIV positive. Serosorting was associated with a lower risk of testing HIV positive than nonconcordant UAI among white MSM (2.1 vs. 4.5%, OR 0.45 95% CI 0.34–0.61), but not AA MSM (6.8 vs. 6.0%, OR 1.1 95% CI 0.57–2.2). Among Hispanics, the risk of testing HIV positive was lower among serosorters than men engaging in nonconcordant UAI, though this was not significant (4.1 vs. 6.0%, OR 0.67 95% CI 0.36–1.2).
Conclusions
In at least some AA MSM populations, serosorting does not appear to be protective against HIV infection.
doi:10.1097/OLQ.0b013e31825727cb
PMCID: PMC3424487  PMID: 22902660
14.  Adherence to Antiretroviral Prophylaxis for HIV Prevention: A Substudy Cohort within a Clinical Trial of Serodiscordant Couples in East Africa 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(9):e1001511.
Jessica Haberer and colleagues investigate the association between high adherence to antiretroviral pre-exposure prophylaxis and HIV transmission in a substudy of serodiscordant couples participating in a clinical trial.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Randomized clinical trials of oral antiretroviral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention have widely divergent efficacy estimates, ranging from 0% to 75%. These discrepancies are likely due to differences in adherence. To our knowledge, no studies to date have examined the impact of improving adherence through monitoring and/or intervention, which may increase PrEP efficacy, or reported on objective behavioral measures of adherence, which can inform PrEP effectiveness and implementation.
Methods and Findings
Within the Partners PrEP Study (a randomized placebo-controlled trial of oral tenofovir and emtricitabine/tenofovir among HIV-uninfected members of serodiscordant couples in Kenya and Uganda), we collected objective measures of PrEP adherence using unannounced home-based pill counts and electronic pill bottle monitoring. Participants received individual and couples-based adherence counseling at PrEP initiation and throughout the study; counseling was intensified if unannounced pill count adherence fell to <80%. Participants were followed monthly to provide study medication, adherence counseling, and HIV testing. A total of 1,147 HIV-uninfected participants were enrolled: 53% were male, median age was 34 years, and median partnership duration was 8.5 years. Fourteen HIV infections occurred among adherence study participants—all of whom were assigned to placebo (PrEP efficacy = 100%, 95% confidence interval 83.7%–100%, p<0.001). Median adherence was 99.1% (interquartile range [IQR] 96.9%–100%) by unannounced pill counts and 97.2% (90.6%–100%) by electronic monitoring over 807 person-years. Report of no sex or sex with another person besides the study partner, younger age, and heavy alcohol use were associated with <80% adherence; the first 6 months of PrEP use and polygamous marriage were associated with >80% adherence. Study limitations include potential shortcomings of the adherence measures and use of a convenience sample within the substudy cohort.
Conclusions
The high PrEP adherence achieved in the setting of active adherence monitoring and counseling support was associated with a high degree of protection from HIV acquisition by the HIV-uninfected partner in heterosexual serodiscordant couples. Low PrEP adherence was associated with sexual behavior, alcohol use, younger age, and length of PrEP use.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, about 2.5 million people (mostly living in sub-Saharan Africa) become infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV, which is usually transmitted through unprotected sex with an HIV-infected partner, destroys immune system cells, leaving infected individuals susceptible to other infections. There is no cure for AIDS, although antiretroviral drugs can hold HIV in check, and there is no vaccine against HIV infection. Individuals can reduce their risk of HIV infection by abstaining from sex, by having only one or a few low risk sexual partners, and by always using a condom. In addition, antiretroviral drugs can potentially be used in two ways to reduce HIV transmission. First, these drugs could be given to HIV-positive individuals to reduce their infectiousness. Second, antiretroviral drugs could be given to HIV-uninfected people to reduce acquisition of the virus. This approach—pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)—has provided varying levels of protection against HIV infection in randomized controlled trials (RCT; studies that monitor the outcomes of groups of patients randomly assigned to receive different test drugs or a placebo/dummy drug).
Why Was This Study Done?
One hypothesis for the varying efficacy of PrEP in RCTs is differential adherence—differences in whether trial participants took the antiretroviral drugs correctly. Antiretroviral drugs only control HIV infections effectively when they are taken regularly and adherence to antiretroviral PrEP is probably also important for HIV prevention. Here, the researchers investigate adherence to antiretroviral prophylaxis in a substudy within the Partners PrEP Study, a placebo-controlled RCT of oral antiretroviral drugs among nearly 5,000 HIV-uninfected members of serodiscordant couples in East Africa. In serodiscordant couples, only one partner is HIV-positive; 20% of couples in Africa who know their HIV status are serodiscordant. In the Partner PrEP Study, the efficacy of HIV protection with oral antiretroviral drugs was 67%–75%.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers selected a “convenience” sample—a sample is taken non-randomly from a population that is close at hand—of 1,147 HIV-uninfected partners enrolled in Uganda. They used unannounced home-based pill counts (an approach that reduced the chance of participants dumping unused pills to appear more adherent than they actually were) and electronic pill bottle monitoring (a microchip in the medication bottle cap recorded whenever the bottle was opened) to measure PrEP adherence in this cohort. All the participants received adherence counseling at PrEP initiation and throughout the study; counseling was intensified if unannounced pill count adherence fell below 80%. Fourteen participants, all of whom had been assigned to placebo, became HIV-positive during the adherence substudy. The average adherence to PrEP was 99.1% and 97.2% as measured by unannounced pill counts and by electronic monitoring, respectively. About 7% and 26% of participants had less than 80% adherence as measured by unannounced pill count and electronic monitoring, respectively, during at least one 3-month period of the substudy. Greater than 80% adherence was associated with the first 6 months of PrEP use and polygamous marriage. Adherence less than 80% was associated with report of no sex or sex with another person besides the study partner, younger age, and heavy alcohol use. Finally, the adherence intervention (intensified counseling) was well received and in the first unannounced pill count after the intervention, adherence increased to above 80% in 92% of participants.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the high level of PrEP adherence achieved in the setting of active adherence monitoring and counseling support was associated with a high level of protection from HIV acquisition by the HIV-uninfected partner in heterosexual serodiscordant couples. The findings also suggest that low PrEP adherence is associated with sexual behavior, alcohol use, younger age, and length of PrEP use. Several aspects of the study design may limit the accuracy of these findings. For example, although the adherence measures used here are probably more accurate than participant reports of missed doses and clinic-based pill counts (adherence measures that are often used in RCTs), they are not perfect. Nevertheless, these findings provide further support for the ability of PrEP to prevent HIV acquisition when taken regularly; they suggest that adherence interventions in the implementation setting should address sexual behavior, risk perception, and heavy alcohol use; and they provide data to guide ethical decisions about resource allocation for prevention and treatment of HIV infection.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001511.
The 2012 UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report provides up-to-date information about the AIDS epidemic and efforts to halt it
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, summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment, and information on HIV transmission and prevention and on PrEP
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV and AIDS in Uganda, on HIV prevention, and on PrEP (in English and Spanish)
PrEP Watch provides detailed information about PrEP and links to other resources; it includes personal stories from people who have chosen to use PrEP
More information about the Partners PrEP Study is available
Personal stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through Avert, through Nam/aidsmap, and through the charity website Healthtalkonline
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001511
PMCID: PMC3769210  PMID: 24058300
15.  Behavior, Intention or Chance? A Longitudinal Study of HIV Seroadaptive Behaviors, Abstinence and Condom Use 
AIDS and behavior  2012;16(1):121-131.
Seroadaptive behaviors have been widely described as preventive strategies among men who have sex with men (MSM) and other populations worldwide. However, causal links between intentions to adopt seroadaptive behaviors and subsequent behavior have not been established. We conducted a longitudinal study of 732 MSM in San Francisco to assess consistency and adherence to multiple seroadaptive behaviors, abstinence and condom use, whether prior intentions predict future seroadaptive behaviors and the likelihood that observed behavioral patterns are the result of chance. Pure serosorting (i.e., having only HIV-negative partners) among HIV-negative MSM and seropositioning (i.e., assuming the receptive position during unprotected anal sex) among HIV-positive MSM were more common, more successfully adhered to and more strongly associated with prior intentions than consistent condom use. Seroconcordant partnerships occurred significantly more often than expected by chance, reducing the prevalence of serodiscordant partnerships. Having no sex was intended by the fewest MSM, yet half of HIV-positive MSM who abstained from sex at baseline also did so at 12 month follow-up. Nonetheless, no preventive strategy was consistently used by more than one-third of MSM overall and none was adhered to by more than half from baseline to follow-up. The effectiveness of seroadaptive strategies should be improved and used as efficacy endpoints in trials of behavioral prevention interventions.
doi:10.1007/s10461-011-9936-8
PMCID: PMC3686637  PMID: 21644001
Men who have sex with men; Serosorting; HIV
16.  A CAUTIONARY TALE: RISK REDUCTION STRATEGIES AMONG URBAN AMERICAN INDIAN/ALASKA NATIVE MEN WHO HAVE SEX WITH MEN 
American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) men who have sex with men (MSM) are considered particularly high risk for HIV transmission and acquisition. In a multi-site cross-sectional survey, 174 AIAN men reported having sex with a man in the past 12 months. We describe harm reduction strategies and sexual behavior by HIV serostatus and seroconcordant partnerships. About half (51.3%) of the respondents reported no anal sex or 100% condom use and 8% were in seroconcordant monogamous partnership. Of the 65 men who reported any sero-adaptive strategy (e.g., 100% seroconcordant partnership, strategic positioning or engaging in any strategy half or most of the time), only 35 (54.7%) disclosed their serostatus to their partners and 27 (41.5%) tested for HIV in the past 3 months. Public health messages directed towards AIAN MSM should continue to encourage risk reduction practices, including condom use and sero-adaptive behaviors. However, messages should emphasize the importance of HIV testing and HIV serostatus disclosure when relying solely on sero-adaptive practices.
doi:10.1521/aeap.2013.25.1.25
PMCID: PMC3951888  PMID: 23387949
17.  Sexual Seroadaptation: Lessons for Prevention and Sex Research from a Cohort of HIV-Positive Men Who Have Sex with Men 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(1):e8831.
Background
Surveillance data on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and behavioral characteristics identified in studies of the risk of seroconversion are often used as to track sexual behaviors that spread HIV. However, such analyses can be confounded by “seroadaptation”—the restriction of unprotected anal intercourse (UAI), especially unprotected insertive UAI, to seroconcordant partnerships.
Methods
We utilized sexual network methodology and repeated-measures statistics to test the hypothesis that seroadaptive strategies reduce the risk of HIV transmission despite numerous partnerships and frequent UAI.
Principal Findings
In a prospective cohort study of HIV superinfection including 168 HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM), we found extensive seroadaptation. UAI was 15.5 times more likely to occur with a positive partner than a negative one (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.1–26.4). Receptive UAI was 4.3 times more likely in seroconcordant partnerships than with negative partners (95% CI, 2.8–6.6), but insertive UAI was 13.6 times more likely with positives (95% CI, 7.2–25.6). Our estimates suggest that seroadaptation reduced HIV transmissions by 98%.
Conclusion
Potentially effective HIV prevention strategies, such as seroadaptation, have evolved in communities of MSM before they have been recognized in research or discussed in the public health forum. Thus, to be informative, studies of HIV risk must be designed to assess seroadaptive behaviors rather than be limited to individual characteristics, unprotected intercourse, and numbers of partners. STI surveillance is not an effective indicator of trends in HIV incidence where there are strong patterns of seroadaptation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008831
PMCID: PMC2809110  PMID: 20098616
18.  “Working together to reach a goal”: MSM's Perceptions of Dyadic HIV Care for Same-Sex Male Couples 
Introduction
Same-sex serodiscordant male dyads represent a high priority risk group, with approximately one to two-thirds of new HIV infections among MSM attributable to main partnerships. Early initiation and adherence to highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART) is a key factor in HIV prevention and treatment; however, adherence to HAART in the U.S. is low, with poor retention throughout the continuum of care. This study examines MSM's perceptions of dyadic HIV treatment across the continuum of care to understand preferences for how care may be sought with a partner.
Methods
We conducted five focus group discussions (FGDs) in Atlanta, GA with 35 men who report being in same-sex male partnerships. Participants discussed perceptions of care using scenarios of a hypothetical same-sex male couple who recently received serodiscordant or seroconcordant positive HIV results. Verbatim transcripts were segmented thematically and systematically analyzed to examine patterns in responses within and between participants and FGDs.
Results
Participants identified the need for comprehensive dyadic care and differences in care for seroconcordant positive versus serodiscordant couples. Participants described a reciprocal relationship between comprehensive dyadic care and positive relationship dynamics. This combination was described as reinforcing commitment, ultimately leading to increased accountability and treatment adherence.
Discussion
Results indicate that the act of same-sex male couples “working together to reach a goal” may increase retention to HIV care across the continuum if care is comprehensive, focuses on both individual and dyadic needs, and promotes positive relationship dynamics.
doi:10.1097/QAI.0b013e3182a9014a
PMCID: PMC3932296  PMID: 24126448
MSM; Dyadic HIV Care; Same-Sex Male Relationships; HAART Adherence
19.  A novel approach to prevention for at-risk HIV negative men who have sex with men: Creating a teachable moment to promote informed sexual decision making 
American journal of public health  2011;101(3):539-545.
Objectives
HIV continues to disproportionately affect men who have sex with men (MSM). As a result of the impact of HIV among MSM, multiple strategies for reducing HIV risks have emerged from within the gay community. One common HIV risk reduction strategy is to limit unprotected sex partners to those who are of the same HIV status, or to serosort. Although serosorting is commonly practiced for risk reduction, it is closely linked to HIV transmission because of infrequent HIV testing, lack of HIV status disclosure, sexually transmitted infections, and acute HIV infection.
Methods
The current study tested a novel, brief, one-on-one, peer counselor-delivered intervention based on informed decision making, to address the limitations of serosorting. One hundred forty nine at-risk men were recruited and randomly assigned to an intervention condition addressing serosorting or a standard-of-care control.
Results
Men in the serosorting intervention reported fewer sexual partners (Wald X2=8.79,p=<.01) at study follow-ups.
Discussion
Addressing risks associated with serosorting in a feasible, low -cost intervention has the potential to significantly impact the HIV epidemic.
doi:10.2105/AJPH.2010.191791
PMCID: PMC3036682  PMID: 21233441
20.  Increases in sexually transmitted infections and sexual risk behaviour without a concurrent increase in HIV incidence among men who have sex with men in San Francisco: a suggestion of HIV serosorting? 
Sexually Transmitted Infections  2006;82(6):461-466.
Background
Sexually transmitted infections (STI) and unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) have been increasing among men who have sex with men (MSM) in San Francisco. However, HIV incidence has stabilised.
Objectives
To describe recent trends in sexual risk behaviour, STI, and HIV incidence among MSM in San Francisco and to assess whether increases in HIV serosorting (that is, selective unprotected sex with partners of the same HIV status) may contribute to preventing further expansion of the epidemic.
Methods
The study applies an ecological approach and follows the principles of second generation HIV surveillance. Temporal trends in biological and behavioural measures among MSM were assessed using multiple pre‐existing data sources: STI case reporting, prevention outreach programmatic data, and voluntary HIV counselling and testing data.
Results
Reported STI cases among MSM rose from 1998 through 2004, although the rate of increase slowed between 2002 and 2004. Rectal gonorrhoea cases increased from 157 to 389 while early syphilis increased from nine to 492. UAI increased overall from 1998 to 2004 (p<0.001) in community based surveys; however, UAI with partners of unknown HIV serostatus decreased overall (p<0.001) among HIV negative MSM, and among HIV positive MSM it declined from 30.7% in 2001 to a low of 21.0% in 2004 (p<0.001). Any UAI, receptive UAI, and insertive UAI with a known HIV positive partner decreased overall from 1998 to 2004 (p<0.001) among MSM seeking anonymous HIV testing and at the STI clinic testing programme. HIV incidence using the serological testing algorithm for recent HIV seroconversion (STARHS) peaked in 1999 at 4.1% at the anonymous testing sites and 4.8% at the STI clinic voluntary testing programme, with rates levelling off through 2004.
Conclusions
HIV incidence among MSM appears to have stabilised at a plateau following several years of resurgence. Increases in the selection of sexual partners of concordant HIV serostatus may be contributing to the stabilisation of the epidemic. However, current incidence rates of STI and HIV remain high. Moreover, a strategy of risk reduction by HIV serosorting can be severely limited by imperfect knowledge of one's own and one's partners' serostatus.
doi:10.1136/sti.2006.019950
PMCID: PMC2563862  PMID: 17151031
men who have sex with men; sexual risk behaviour; sexually transmitted infections; HIV
21.  A Population-Based Study on Alcohol and High-Risk Sexual Behaviors in Botswana 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e392.
Background
In Botswana, an estimated 24% of adults ages 15–49 years are infected with HIV. While alcohol use is strongly associated with HIV infection in Africa, few population-based studies have characterized the association of alcohol use with specific high-risk sexual behaviors.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cross-sectional, population-based study of 1,268 adults from five districts in Botswana using a stratified two-stage probability sample design. Multivariate logistic regression was used to assess correlates of heavy alcohol consumption (>14 drinks/week for women, and >21 drinks/week for men) as a dependent variable. We also assessed gender-specific associations between alcohol use as a primary independent variable (categorized as none, moderate, problem and heavy drinking) and several risky sex outcomes including: (a) having unprotected sex with a nonmonogamous partner; (b) having multiple sexual partners; and (c) paying for or selling sex in exchange for money or other resources. Criteria for heavy drinking were met by 31% of men and 17% of women. Adjusted correlates of heavy alcohol use included male gender, intergenerational relationships (age gap ≥10 y), higher education, and living with a sexual partner. Among men, heavy alcohol use was associated with higher odds of all risky sex outcomes examined, including unprotected sex (AOR = 3.48; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.65 to 7.32), multiple partners (AOR = 3.08; 95% CI, 1.95 to 4.87), and paying for sex (AOR = 3.65; 95% CI, 2.58 to 12.37). Similarly, among women, heavy alcohol consumption was associated with higher odds of unprotected sex (AOR = 3.28; 95% CI, 1.71 to 6.28), multiple partners (AOR = 3.05; 95% CI, 1.83 to 5.07), and selling sex (AOR = 8.50; 95% CI, 3.41 to 21.18). A dose-response relationship was seen between alcohol use and risky sexual behaviors, with moderate drinkers at lower risk than both problem and heavy drinkers.
Conclusions
Alcohol use is associated with multiple risks for HIV transmission among both men and women. The findings of this study underscore the need to integrate alcohol abuse and HIV prevention efforts in Botswana and elsewhere.
Alcohol use is associated with multiple risks for HIV transmission in men and women. The findings underscore the need to integrate alcohol abuse and HIV prevention efforts in Botswana and elsewhere.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), is most commonly spread through unprotected sex with an infected partner. HIV enters the body through the lining of the sex organs, rectum, or mouth, and destroys immune system cells, leaving the infected person susceptible to other viruses and bacteria. Although HIV education and prevention campaigns emphasize the importance of safe sex in reducing HIV transmission, people continue to become infected by having unprotected sex (that is, not using a condom) with either a nonmonogamous partner or multiple sexual partners, or in situations where they are paying for or selling sex. Research in different populations suggested that heavy alcohol use is associated with risky sexual behaviors. This is because alcohol relaxes the brain and body, reduces inhibitions, and diminishes risk perception. Drinking alcohol may further increase the risk of becoming infected with HIV through its suppressive effects on the immune system.
Why Was This Study Done?
Alcohol abuse is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa where most HIV infections occur and has been associated with risky sexual behaviors. It may therefore be one of the most common, potentially modifiable HIV risk factors in this region. However, research to date has concentrated on the association between alcohol consumption and risky sex in people attending HIV-treatment clinics or recruited at beer halls, and these populations may not be representative of the general population of sub-Saharan Africa. In this study, the researchers have investigated the potential role of alcohol in perpetuating the HIV epidemic by undertaking a population-based study on alcohol use and high-risk sexual behaviors in Botswana. Nearly a quarter of adults are infected with HIV here, and alcohol abuse is also common, particularly in the townships.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers recruited a random cross-section of people from the five districts of Botswana with the highest number of HIV-infected individuals and interviewed all 1,268 participants using a questionnaire. This included general questions about the participants (for example, their age and marital status) and questions about alcohol use, sexual behavior, and knowledge of HIV. Overall, 31% of the men in the study and 17% of the women were heavy drinkers—more than 21 drinks/week for men, 14 for women; a drink is half a pint of beer or a glass of wine. Heavy alcohol use was associated with being male, being in an intergenerational relationship (at least 10 years age difference between partners; intergenerational sex facilitates the continued spread of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa), having had more education, and living with a sexual partner. Among men, those who drank heavily were three to four times more likely to have unprotected sex or multiple partners or to pay for sex than nondrinkers. Among women, there was a similar association between heavy drinking and having unprotected sex or multiple partners, and heavy drinkers were eight times as likely to sell sex as nondrinkers. For both men and women, the more they drank, the more likely they were to have risky sex. The study did not address behavior among same-sex partnerships.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This study indicates that heavy alcohol consumption is strongly and consistently associated with sexual risk behaviors in both men and women in Botswana. Because of the study design, it does not prove that heavy alcohol use is the cause of such behaviors but provides strong circumstantial evidence that this is the case. It is possible that these results may not apply to neighboring African countries—Botswana is unique in being relatively wealthy and in its government being strongly committed to tackling HIV. Nevertheless, taken together with the results of other studies, this research strongly argues for the need to deal with alcohol abuse within HIV prevention programs in sub-Saharan Africa. Strategies to do this could include education campaigns that target both alcohol use and HIV in schools and in social venues, including beer halls. But, stress the researchers, any strategy that is used must consider the cultural and social significance of alcohol use (in Botswana, alcohol use is a symbol of masculinity and high socioeconomic status) and must simultaneously tackle not only the overlap between alcohol use and risky sexual behavior but also the overlap between alcohol and other risk behaviors such as intergenerational sex.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030392.
US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases factsheet on HIV infection and AIDS
US Department of Health and Human Services information on AIDS
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information on HIV/AIDS
US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism patient information on alcohol and HIV/AIDS]
Aidsmap, information on HIV and AIDS provided by the charity NAM,which includes some information on HIV infections and alcohol
AVERT information on HIV and AIDS in Botswana
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030392
PMCID: PMC1592342  PMID: 17032060
22.  Sexual behaviour, recreational drug use and hepatitis C co-infection in HIV-diagnosed men who have sex with men in the United Kingdom: results from the ASTRA study 
Journal of the International AIDS Society  2014;17(4Suppl 3):19630.
Introduction
Transmission of Hepatitis C virus (HCV) among HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM) in the United Kingdom is ongoing. We explore associations between self-reported sexual behaviours and drug use with cumulative HCV prevalence, as well as new HCV diagnosis.
Methods
ASTRA is a cross-sectional questionnaire study including 2,248 HIV-diagnosed MSM under care in the United Kingdom during 2011–2012. Socio-demographic, lifestyle, HIV-related and sexual behaviour data were collected during the study. One thousand seven hundred and fifty two (≥70%) of the MSM who consented to linkage of ASTRA and clinical information (prior to and post questionnaire) were included. Cumulative prevalence of HCV was defined as any positive anti-HCV or HCV-RNA test result at any point prior to questionnaire completion. We excluded 536 participants with clinical records only after questionnaire completion. Among the remaining 1,216 MSM, we describe associations of self-reported sexual behaviours and recreational drug use in the three months prior to ASTRA with cumulative HCV prevalence, using modified Poisson regression with robust error variances. New HCV was defined as any positive anti-HCV or HCV-RNA after questionnaire completion. We excluded 591 MSM who reported ever having a HCV diagnosis at questionnaire, any positive HCV result prior to questionnaire or did not have any HCV tests after the questionnaire. Among the remaining 1,195 MSM, we describe occurrence of new HCV diagnosis during follow-up according to self-reported sexual behaviours and recreational drug use three months prior to questionnaire (Fisher's exact test).
Results
Cumulative HCV prevalence among MSM prior to ASTRA was 13.3% (95% CI 11.5–15.4). Clinic- and age-adjusted prevalence ratios (95% CI) for cumulative HCV prevalence were 4.6 (3.1–6.7) for methamphetamine, 6.5 (3.5–12.1) for injection drugs, 2.3 (1.6–3.4) for gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), 1.6 (1.3–2.0) for nitrites, 1.7 (1.5–2.0) for all condom-less sex (CLS), 2.1 (1.7–2.5) for CLS-HIV-seroconcordant, 1.3 (0.9–1.9) for CLS-HIV-serodiscordant, 2.0 (1.6–2.5) for group sex, 1.5 (1.2–1.9) for more than 10 new sexual partners in the past year. Among 1,195 MSM with 2.2 years [IQR 1.5–2.4] median follow-up, there were 7 new HCV cases during 2,033 person-years at risk. Incidence was 3.5 per 1,000 person-years (95% CI 1.6–7.2). New HCV was recorded in 1.3% MSM who used methamphetamine versus 0.5% MSM who did not (p=0.385); 3.7% MSM who injected recreational drugs versus 0.5% MSM who did not (p=0.148); 2.9% MSM who used GHB versus 0.4% MSM who did not (p=0.003); 1.5% MSM who used nitrites versus 0.2% MSM who did not (p=0.019); 1.1% MSM having CLS versus 0.3% MSM who did not (p=0.084); 1.7% MSM having CLS-HIV-serodiscordant versus 0.4% MSM who did not (p=0.069); 0.9% MSM who had CLS-HIV-seroconcordant versus 0.5% MSM who did not (p=0.318); 0.8% MSM who had group sex versus 0.5% MSM who did not (p=0.463); and 1.6% MSM with =10 new sexual partners in the previous year versus 0.2% MSM with no or up to 9 new partners (p=0.015).
Conclusions
Self-reported recent use of recreational and injection drugs, condom-less sex and multiple new sexual partners are associated with pre-existing HCV infection and, with the exception of injection drugs, appear to be predictive of new HCV co-infection among HIV-diagnosed MSM.
doi:10.7448/IAS.17.4.19630
PMCID: PMC4224924  PMID: 25394134
23.  Optimal Uses of Antiretrovirals for Prevention in HIV-1 Serodiscordant Heterosexual Couples in South Africa: A Modelling Study 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(11):e1001123.
Hallett et al use a mathematical model to examine the long-term impact and cost-effectiveness of different pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) strategies for HIV prevention in serodiscordant couples.
Background
Antiretrovirals have substantial promise for HIV-1 prevention, either as antiretroviral treatment (ART) for HIV-1–infected persons to reduce infectiousness, or as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV-1–uninfected persons to reduce the possibility of infection with HIV-1. HIV-1 serodiscordant couples in long-term partnerships (one member is infected and the other is uninfected) are a priority for prevention interventions. Earlier ART and PrEP might both reduce HIV-1 transmission in this group, but the merits and synergies of these different approaches have not been analyzed.
Methods and Findings
We constructed a mathematical model to examine the impact and cost-effectiveness of different strategies, including earlier initiation of ART and/or PrEP, for HIV-1 prevention for serodiscordant couples. Although the cost of PrEP is high, the cost per infection averted is significantly offset by future savings in lifelong treatment, especially among couples with multiple partners, low condom use, and a high risk of transmission. In some situations, highly effective PrEP could be cost-saving overall. To keep couples alive and without a new infection, providing PrEP to the uninfected partner could be at least as cost-effective as initiating ART earlier in the infected partner, if the annual cost of PrEP is <40% of the annual cost of ART and PrEP is >70% effective.
Conclusions
Strategic use of PrEP and ART could substantially and cost-effectively reduce HIV-1 transmission in HIV-1 serodiscordant couples. New and forthcoming data on the efficacy of PrEP, the cost of delivery of ART and PrEP, and couples behaviours and preferences will be critical for optimizing the use of antiretrovirals for HIV-1 prevention.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, about 2.5 million people become infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV is usually transmitted through unprotected sex with an HIV-infected partner. It destroys immune system cells (including CD4 cells, a type of lymphocyte), leaving infected individuals susceptible to other infections. There is no cure for AIDS, although HIV can be held in check with antiretroviral therapy (ART), and there is no vaccine that protects against HIV infection. So, to halt the AIDS epidemic, other ways of preventing the spread of HIV are needed. Antiretroviral drugs could potentially be used in two ways to reduce HIV transmission. First, ART could be given to HIV-infected people before they need it for their own health to reduce their infectiousness; the World Health Organization currently recommends that HIV-positive people initiate ART when their CD4 count drops below 350 cells/µl blood but in many African countries ART is only initiated when CD4 counts fall below 200 cells/µl. Second, ART could be given to HIV-uninfected people to reduce acquisition of the virus. This approach—preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP)—has provided protection against HIV transmission in some but not all clinical trials.
Why Was This Study Done?
Couples in long-term relationships where one partner is HIV-positive and the other is HIV-negative (HIV serodiscordant couples) are a priority group for prevention interventions. In sub-Saharan Africa, where most new HIV infections occur, 10%–20% of stable partnerships are serodiscordant and condom use is often low, not least because such couples may want children. Earlier ART or PrEP might reduce HIV transmission in this group but the merits of different approaches have not been analyzed. In this study, the researchers use a mathematical model to examine the long-term impact and cost-effectiveness of different PrEP and ART strategies for HIV prevention in serodiscordant couples.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers constructed a model to simulate HIV infection and disease progression among hypothetical HIV serodiscordant stable heterosexual couples. The model incorporated data from South Africa on couple characteristics, disease progression, ART use, pregnancies, frequency of sex, and contact with other sexual partners, as well as estimates of the effectiveness of PrEP from clinical trials. The researchers used the model to compare the impact on HIV transmission, survival and quality of life, and the cost-effectiveness of no PrEP with four PrEP strategies—always use PrEP after diagnosis of HIV serodiscordancy, use PrEP up to and for a year after ART initiation by the HIV-infected partner (at a CD4 count of ≤200 cells/µl or ≤350 cells/µl), use PrEP only up to ART initiation by the infected partner, and use PrEP only while trying for a baby and during pregnancy. The model predicts, for example, that the cost per infection averted of PrEP used before ART initiation will be offset by future savings in lifelong treatment, particularly among couples with multiple partners, low condom use, and a high risk of transmission. To keep couples alive without the HIV-uninfected partner becoming infected, it could be more cost-effective to provide PrEP to the uninfected partner than to initiate ART earlier in the infected partner, provided the annual cost of PrEP is less than 40% of the annual cost of ART and PrEP is more than 70% effective. Finally, if PREP is 30%–60% effective, the most cost-effective strategy for couples could be to use PrEP in the uninfected partner prior to ART initiation in the infected partner at a CD4 count ≤350 cells/µl.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the strategic use of PrEP and ART could cost-effectively reduce HIV transmission in HIV serodiscordant stable heterosexual couples in sub-Saharan Africa. The accuracy of these findings depends on the assumptions included in the mathematical model and on the data fed into it. In particular, the interpretation of these results is complicated by uncertainties in the likely cost of PrEP and the “real-world” effectiveness of PrEP. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that PrEP may become a valuable addition in some settings to existing approaches for HIV prevention such as condom promotion and male circumcision programs. Moreover, additional simulations with this mathematical model using more accurate information on the costs and effectiveness of PrEP could assist in future policy making decisions.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001123.
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, summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment, and a section on PrEP
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on all aspects of HIV prevention, and on HIV/AIDS in Africa (in English and Spanish)
AVAC Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention provides up-to-date information on all aspects of HIV prevention, including PrEP
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has information on PrEP
WHO provides information about antiretroviral therapy
Patient stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through Avert and through the charity website Healthtalkonline
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001123
PMCID: PMC3217021  PMID: 22110407
24.  The Prevalence of Undiagnosed HIV Serodiscordance among Male Couples Presenting for HIV Testing 
Archives of sexual behavior  2014;43(1):173-180.
In the United States, a substantial proportion of HIV transmissions among men who have sex with men (MSM) arise from main sex partners. Couples voluntary HIV testing and counseling (CHTC) is used in many parts of the world with male-female couples, but CHTC has historically not been available in the U.S. and few data exist about the extent of HIV serodiscordance among U.S. male couples. We tested partners in 95 Atlanta male couples (190 men) for HIV. Eligible men were in a relationship for ≥ 3 months and were not known to be HIV-positive. We calculated the prevalence of couples that were seroconcordant HIV-negative, seroconcordant HIV-positive, or HIV serodiscordant. We evaluated differences in the prevalence of HIV serodiscordance by several dyadic characteristics (e.g., duration of relationship, sexual agreements, and history of anal intercourse in the relationship). Overall, among 190 men tested for HIV, 11% (n = 20) were newly identified as HIV-positive. Among the 95 couples, 81% (n = 77) were concordant HIV-negative, 17% (n = 16) were HIV serodiscordant, and 2% (n=2) were concordant HIV-positive. Serodiscordance was not significantly associated with any evaluated dyadic characteristic. The prevalence of undiagnosed HIV serodiscordance among male couples in Atlanta is high. Offering testing to male couples may attract men with a high HIV seropositivity rate to utilize testing services. Based on the global evidence base for CHTC with heterosexual couples and the current evidence of substantial undiagnosed HIV serodiscordance among U.S. MSM, we recommend scale-up of CHTC services for MSM, with ongoing evaluation of acceptability and couples’ serostatus outcomes.
doi:10.1007/s10508-013-0214-x
PMCID: PMC3945405  PMID: 24233391
HIV; men who have sex with men; HIV testing; male couples; sexual orientation
25.  A strategy for selecting sexual partners believed to pose little/no risks for HIV: Serosorting and its implications for HIV transmission 
AIDS care  2009;21(10):1279-1288.
A common HIV/AIDS risk reduction strategy among men who have sex with men (MSM) is to limit their unprotected sex partners to those who are of the same HIV status, a practice referred to as serosorting. Decisions to serosort for HIV risk reduction are based on personal impressions and beliefs, and there is limited guidance offered on this community derived strategy from public health services. This paper reviews research on serosorting for HIV risk reduction and offers an evidence-based approach to serosorting guidance. Following a comprehensive electronic and manual literature search, we reviewed 51 studies relating to the implications of serosorting. Studies showed that HIV negative MSM who select partners based on HIV status are inadvertently placing themselves at risk for HIV. Infrequent HIV testing, lack of HIV status disclosure, co-occurring STIs, and acute HIV infection impede the potential protective benefits of serosorting. Public health messages should continue to encourage reductions in numbers of sexual partners and increases in condom use. Risk reduction messages should also highlight the limitations of relying on one’s own and partner’s HIV status in making sexual risk decisions.
doi:10.1080/09540120902803208
PMCID: PMC2937200  PMID: 20024704
serosorting; acute infection; HIV testing; prevention messages

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