Although the association of stimulant use to sexual risk taking and HIV transmission has been well documented among white gay men, stimulant use during sex continues to be under-explored among Black men who have sex with men (MSM).
Black MSM (n = 197) recruited via modified respondent-driven sampling between January and July 2008 completed an interviewer-administered quantitative assessment and optional HIV counseling and testing. Bivariate logistic regression procedures were employed to examine the association of demographics, sexual risk, and other psychosocial factors with stimulant use (at least monthly during sex in the past 12 months). Variable elimination using the backward selection process was used to fit two separate final multivariable logistic regression models examining stimulant use as the outcome and HIV sexual risk in the past 12 months by gender as the primary predictor: (1) Model 1: HIV sexual risk behavior with a casual male sex partner as a primary, forced predictor; (2) Model 2: HIV sexual risk behavior with a female sex partner as primary, forced predictor.
One-third (34%) of Black MSM reported using stimulants monthly or more frequently during sex in the past 12 months. The following factors were independently associated with stimulant use during sex: (1) Model 1: unprotected anal sex with a casual male sex partner in the past 12 months (AOR = 2.61; 95% CI = 1.06–6.42; p = 0.01), older age (AOR = 1.09; 95% CI = 1.05–1.15; p < 0.001), erectile dysfunction (ED) medication use monthly or more during sex in the past 12 months (AOR = 7.81; 95% CI = 1.46–41.68; p = 0.02), problematic alcohol use (AOR = 3.31; 95% CI = 1.312–8.38; p = 0.005), and higher HIV treatment optimism (AOR = 0.86; 95% CI = 0.76–0.97; p = 0.01). (2) Model 2: unprotected vaginal or anal sex with a female partner in the past 12 months (AOR = 3.54; 95% CI = 1.66–7.56; p = 0.001), older age (AOR = 1.10; 95% CI = 1.05–1.14; p < 0.001), ED use monthly or more during sex in the past 12 months (AOR = 3.70; 95% CI = 1.13–12.13; p = 0.03), clinically significant depressive symptoms (CES-D) at the time of study enrollment (AOR = 3.11; 95% CI = 1.45–6.66; p = 0.004), and supportive condom use norms (AOR = 0.69; 95% CI = 0.49–0.97; p = 0.03).
Frequent stimulant use is an important factor in HIV and STD sexual risk among Black MSM, particularly for older men and those with co-occurring psychosocial morbidities. HIV and STD prevention interventions in this population may benefit from addressing the precipitants of stimulant use and sexual risk taking.
Stimulant use; Black; MSM; HIV; Sexual risk behavior
High rates of depression have been observed among men who have sex with men (MSM) relative to the general adult male population; however, a dearth of research has explored depression among Black MSM. Black MSM (n = 197) recruited via modified respondent-driven sampling between January and July 2008 completed an interviewer-administered quantitative assessment and voluntary HIV counseling and testing. Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression procedures examined the associations of demographics, behavioral HIV risk factors, and psychosocial variables with depressive symptoms by severity, using the 20-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Adjusting for demographic and behavioral variables, significant factors associated with (1) clinically significant depressive symptoms (33%; CES-D score ≥ 16): being publicly insured by Medicaid, having serodiscordant anal sex with a casual male partner, and being diagnosed with an STD in the prior 12 months; (2) moderate depressive symptoms (19%; CES-D score 16–26): having serodiscordant unprotected anal sex with a casual male partner and being diagnosed with an STD in the prior 12 months; (3) severe depressive symptoms (14%; CES-D score 27+): being publicly insured by Medicaid and reporting difficulty accessing healthcare in the past 12 months. Moderately depressed Black MSM may be more likely to engage in behaviors that place them at increased risk for HIV and other STDs. HIV prevention interventions for Black MSM may benefit from incorporating screening and/or treatment for depression, allowing MSM who are depressed to respond more effectively to behavioral change approaches.
MSM; Depression; African American; HIV; STD
Many HIV-infected injection drug users (IDUs) continue to use illicit substances despite being in substance use treatment. Substance use is associated with non-adherence to HIV medications; however underlying mechanisms regarding this relation are understudied. The current investigation examined the role of substance use coping in terms of the relation between substance use and HIV medication adherence. Participants were 121 HIV-infected IDUs (41 % female, M age = 47, SD = 7.1) in opioid dependence treatment. Participants completed self-report questionnaires, were administered clinical interviews and oral toxicology screens, and used a medication-event-monitoring-system cap to assess 2 week HIV medication adherence. The use of cocaine and multiple substances were significantly related to decreased medication adherence. Substance use coping mediated these associations. Findings highlight the importance of assessing, monitoring, and targeting ongoing substance use, and ways to increase positive coping for HIV-infected IDUs in substance use treatment to aid in HIV medication adherence.
HIV/AIDS; Medication adherence; Substance use; Coping; Cocaine
Crystal methamphetamine use is a major driver behind high-risk sexual behavior among men who have sex with men (MSM). Prior work suggests a cycle of continued crystal methamphetamine use and high-risk sex due to loss of the ability to enjoy other activities, which appears to be a side effect of this drug. Behavioral activation (BA) is a treatment for depression that involves learning to reengage in life's activities. We evaluated a novel intervention for crystal methamphetamine abuse and high-risk sex in MSM, incorporating 10 sessions of BA with integrated HIV risk reduction counseling (RR). Forty-four subjects were screened, of whom 21 met initial entry criteria. A total of 19 participants enrolled; 16 completed an open-phase study of the intervention. Behavioral assessments were conducted at baseline, 3 months postbaseline, and 6 months postbaseline. Linear mixed effects regression models were fit to assess change over time. Mean unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) episodes decreased significantly from baseline to acute postintervention (β=−4.86; 95% confidence interval [CI]=−7.48, −2.24; p=0.0015) and from baseline to 6 months postbaseline (β=−5.07; 95% CI=−7.85, −2.29; p=0.0017; test of fixed effects χ2=16.59; df=2,13; p=0.0002). On average, there was a significant decrease over time in the number of crystal methamphetamine episodes in the past 3 months (χ2=22.43; df=2,15; p<0.0001), and the number of days of crystal methamphetamine use in the past 30 days (χ2=9.21; df=2,15; p=0.010). Statistically significant reductions in depressive symptoms and poly-substance use were also maintained. Adding behavioral activation to risk reduction counseling for MSM with problematic crystal methamphetamine use may augment the potency of a risk reduction intervention for this population. Due to the small sample size and time intensive intervention, future testing in a randomized design is necessary to determine efficacy, with subsequent effectiveness testing.
Intermittent dosing of pre-exposure prophylaxis (iPrEP) has potential to decrease costs, improve adherence, and minimize toxicity. Practical event-based dosing of iPrEP requires men who have sex with men (MSM) to be sexually active on fewer than 3 days each week and plan for sexual activity. MSM who may be most suitable for event-based dosing were older, more educated, more frequently used sexual networking websites, and more often reported that their last sexual encounter was not with a committed partner. A substantial proportion of these MSM endorse high-risk sexual activity, and event-based iPrEP may best target this population.
intermittent pre-exposure prophylaxis (iPrEP); pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP); event-based dosing; men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM); HIV; sexual frequency; sexual planning
Advances in antiretroviral medications have resulted in precipitous declines in HIV-associated morbidity and mortality; however, high levels of adherence are crucial to the success of HIV therapies. This article reviews published studies in the United States on HIV-infected youth (ages 13 to 24 years), focusing on adherence to antiretroviral regimens and interventions designed to enhance adherence. A systematic search yielded 21 articles published between 1999 and 2008 that reported data on medication adherence in HIV-infected youth, of which 7 described unique interventions to enhance medication adherence. Five thematic areas were identified to classify factors associated with adherence. Findings suggest psychosocial factors, in particular depression and anxiety, were consistently associated with poorer adherence across studies. Three types of adherence interventions with HIV-infected youth were found. Results suggest that examining adherence within the broader contextual issues present in the lives of youth, including HIV stigma and disclosure, caregiver stress, peer relations, mental health and substance use, and length of time on medications, may be most important to understanding how best to intervene with adherence among this population. Secondary HIV prevention interventions for youth represent a possible mode through which to deliver individually tailored adherence skill building and counseling to improve medication adherence.
The AIDS epidemic has been fueled by global inequities. Ranging from gender inequality and underdevelopment to homophobia impeding health care access for men who have sex with men (MSM), imbalanced resource allocations and social biases have potentiated the epidemic’s spread. However, recognition of culturally specific aspects of each microepidemic has yielded development of community-based organizations, which have resulted in locally effective responses to AIDS. This effective approach to HIV prevention, care and treatment is illustrated through examples of community-based responses in Haiti, the United States, Africa, and other impoverished settings.
Disparities; Inequity; Health Care Access; Homophobia; Gender Inequality
An emerging HIV epidemic can be seen among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Vietnam, with prevalence as high as 18%. Transactional sex represents a risk factor for HIV transmission/acquisition among MSM globally, particularly in urban contexts, but remains largely underinvestigated in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam. In 2010, 23 MSM who reported exchanging sex for money in the last month completed a brief survey and semistructured qualitative interview at The Life Centre, a non-governmental organization in HCMC, to assess sociodemographics, individual- and structural-level HIV risk factors and explore acceptable future prevention interventions. Participants’ mean age was 24 years. Equal proportions of respondents self-identified as heterosexual/straight, homosexual/gay, and bisexual. Participants had a mean of 158 male clients in the past year, with a median of 60 male clients in the past year (interquartile range [IQR]=70) and reported inconsistent condom use and inaccurate perceptions of HIV risk. Nearly half of the sample reported engaging in unprotected anal sex with a male partner in the past 12 months and one-third with a male client. Major themes that emerged for HIV prevention interventions with male sex workers were those that: (1) focused on individual factors (drug and alcohol use, barriers to condom use, knowledge of asymptomatic STIs, enhancement of behavioral risk-reduction skills, and addressing concomitant mental health issues); (2) incorporated interpersonal and relational contexts (led by peer educators, built interpersonal skills, attended to partner type and intimacy dynamics); and (3) considered the exogenous environments in which individual choices/relationships operate (stigma of being MSM in Vietnam, availability of alternative economic opportunities, and varied sexual venues). HIV prevention efforts are needed that address the specific needs of MSM who engage in transactional sex in HCMC. Universally, MSM endorsed HIV prevention interventions, suggesting a need and desire for efforts in this context.
HIV; Vietnam; prevention; male sex workers; transactional sex
The Center for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) 004 and Pre-exposure Prophylaxis Initiative (iPrEx) studies demonstrated that topical or oral chemoprophylaxis could decrease HIV transmission. Yet to have an appreciable public health impact, physicians will need to be educated about these new HIV prevention modalities. Massachusetts physicians were recruited via e-mail to complete an online survey of their knowledge and use of HIV prevention interventions. Data were collected before (July–December, 2010) (n=178) and after (December, 2010–April, 2011) (n=115) the release of iPrEx data. Over the two time intervals, knowledge of oral PrEP significantly increased (79% to 92%, p<0.01), whereas knowledge about topical microbicides was already high (89% pre-iPrEx). Post-iPrEx, specialists were more knowledgeable about oral PrEP (p<0.01) and topical microbicides (p<0.001) than generalists. The majority of the respondents would prefer to prescribe topical microbicides (75%) than oral PrEP (25%; p<0.001), primarily because they perceived fewer side effects (95%). Respondents indicated that PrEP should be available if it were a highly effective, daily pill; however, ongoing concerns included: potential drug resistance (93%), decreased funds for other forms of HIV prevention (88%), medication side effects (83%), and limited data regarding PrEP's clinical efficacy (75%). Participants indicated that formal CDC guidelines would have the greatest impact on their willingness to prescribe PrEP (96%). Among Massachusetts physicians sampled, chemoprophylaxis knowledge was high, but current experience was limited. Although topical gel was preferred, responses suggest a willingness to adapt practices pending additional efficacy data and further guidance from normative bodies. Educational programs aimed at incorporating antiretroviral chemoprophylaxis into physicians' HIV prevention practices are warranted.
The present study sought to identify characteristics of HIV-infected MSM that are associated with the use of specific substances and substance abuse in general. Participants were 503 HIV-infected MSM who were receiving primary care. A self-assessment and medical records were used to obtain information about past 3-month alcohol and drug use and abuse, and demographics, HIV-disease stage and treatment, sexual risk, and mental health. Associations of these four domains with substance use and abuse outcomes were examined using hierarchical block-stepwise multivariable logistic regression. Substance use and abuse in the sample was high. Transmission risk behavior was significantly associated with over half of the outcomes. The associations of demographic and HIV-disease stage and treatment variables varied by substance, and mental health problems contributed differentially to almost every outcome. These findings should be considered for designing, implementing, and evaluating substance use programming for HIV-infected MSM.
HIV/AIDS; Men who have sex with men; Alcohol; Drugs; HIV clinic
Male-to-female transgender individuals who engage in sex work constitute a group at high risk for HIV infection in the United States. This mixed-methods formative study examined sexual risk among preoperative transgender male-to-female sex workers (N = 11) in Boston. More than one third of the participants were HIV-infected and reported a history of sexually transmitted diseases. Participants had a mean of 36 (SD = 72) transactional male sex partners in the past 12 months, and a majority reported at least one episode of unprotected anal sex. Qualitative themes included (a) sexual risk, (b) motivations for engaging in sex work, (c) consequences of sex work, (d) social networks (i.e., “trans mothers,” who played a pivotal role in initiation into sex work), and (e) potential intervention strategies. Results suggest that interventions with transgender male-to-female sex workers must be at multiple levels and address the psychosocial and environmental contexts in which sexual risk behavior occurs.
HIV; intervention development; sexually transmitted diseases; transgender; trans mothers
Stigma has been shown to increase vulnerability to HIV acquisition in many settings around the world. However, limited research has been conducted examining its role among men who have sex with men (MSM) in India, whose HIV prevalence is far greater than the general population. In 2009, 210 MSM in Chennai completed an interviewer-administered assessment, including questions about stigma, sexual-risk, demographics, and psychosocial variables. More than one fifth of the MSM reported unprotected anal sex (UAS) in the past three months. Logistic regression procedures were used to examine correlates of having experienced stigma. The 11-item stigma scale had high internal consistency reliability (Cronbach's alpha=0.99). Almost 2/5ths (39%) reported a high-level of experienced stigma (≥12 mean scale-score) in their lifetime, and the mean stigma scale score was 12 (SD=2.0). Significant correlates of having experienced prior stigma, after adjusting for age and educational attainment, included: identifying as a kothi (feminine acting/appearing and predominantly receptive in anal sex) compared to a panthi (masculine appearing, predominantly insertive) (AOR= 63.23; 95% CI: 15.92, 251.14; p<0.0001); being “out” about one's MSM behavior (AOR=5.63; 95% CI: 1.46, 21.73; p=0.01); having clinically significant depressive symptoms (AOR=2.68; 95% CI: 1.40, 5.12; p=0.003); and engaging in sex work in the prior 3 months (AOR=4.89; 95% CI: 2.51, 9.51; p<0.0001). These findings underscore the need to address psychosocial issues of Indian MSM. Unless issues such as stigma are addressed, effective HIV prevention interventions for this hidden population remain a challenge.
men who have sex with men; MSM; depression; India; HIV; stigma
In India men who have sex with men (MSM) are stigmatized, understudied, and at high risk for HIV. Understanding the impact of psychosocial issues on HIV risk behavior and HIV infection can help shape culturally relevant HIV prevention interventions. Peer outreach workers recruited 210 MSM in Chennai who completed an interviewer-administered psychosocial assessment battery and underwent HIV testing and counseling. More than one fifth (46/210) reported unprotected anal intercourse in the past 3 months, 8% tested positive for HIV, and 26% had previously participated in an HIV prevention intervention. In a multivariable logistic-regression model controlling for age, MSM subpopulation (kothi, panthi, or double-decker), marital status, and religion, significant predictors of any unprotected anal intercourse were being less educated (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = .54; p = .009), not having previously participated in an HIV prevention program (AOR = 3.75; p = .05), having clinically significant depression symptoms (AOR = 2.8; p = .02), and lower self-efficacy (AOR = .40; p < .0001). Significant predictors of testing positive for HIV infection were: being less educated (AOR = .53; .05) and not currently living with parent(s) (AOR = 3.71; p = .05). Given the prevalence of HIV among MSM, efforts to reach hidden subpopulations of MSM in India are still needed. Such programs for MSM in India may need to address culturally-relevant commonly co-occurring psychosocial problems to maximize chances of reducing risk for infection.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) in India have an HIV seroprevalence 22 times greater than the country’s general population and face unique challenges that may hinder the effectiveness of current HIV prevention efforts. To obtain an understanding of the logistical and sociocultural barriers MSM experience while accessing HIV prevention services, focus groups and key informant interviews were conducted with 55 MSM in Chennai, India. Qualitative data were analyzed using descriptive qualitative content analysis. Sixty-five percent of participants identified as kothi (receptive partners), 9% as panthi (insertive partners), 22% as double decker (receptive and insertive), and 4% did not disclose. Themes included: (a) fatigue with current HIV risk reduction messages; (b) increased need for non-judgmental and confidential services; and (c) inclusion of content that acknowledges individual and structural-level determinants of risk such as low self-esteem, depression, and social discrimination. MSM interventions may benefit from approaches that address multilevel psychosocial factors, including skills building and strategies to foster self-acceptance and increased social support.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) have the highest incidence of HIV infection in the United States. One of the contributing factors to HIV spread among this group is the use of crystal methamphetamine (“meth”). The objective was to review the behavioral impact of crystal meth use in HIV-infected MSM and potential treatment options. A systematic review of MEDLINE identified studies that evaluated the clinical effects of crystal meth on the HIV-infected MSM population. Search terms included HIV, methamphetamine, MSM, antiretroviral therapy, adherence, resistance, and treatment. U.S. citations in the English language in peer-reviewed journals until December 2010 were included. The primary author reviewed eligible articles, and relevant data including study design, sample, and outcomes were entered into an electronic data table. The 61 included studies highlight that HIV-infected MSM who use crystal meth are more likely to report high-risk sexual behaviors, incident sexually transmitted infections, and serodiscordant unprotected anal intercourse, compared to HIV-infected MSM who do not use crystal meth. Medication adherence in this population is notably low, which may contribute to transmission of resistant virus. No medications have proven effective in the treatment of crystal meth addiction, and the role of behavioral therapies, such as contingency management are still in question. HIV-infected MSM who abuse crystal meth have worse HIV-related health outcomes. Behavioral interventions have shown variable results in treating crystal meth addiction, and more investigation into rehabilitation options are needed. The results presented support efforts to develop and implement novel interventions to reduce crystal meth use in HIV-infected MSM.
We assessed the extent to which Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations have influenced routine HIV testing among Massachusetts community health center (CHC) personnel, and identified specific barriers and facilitators to routine testing.
Thirty-one CHCs were enrolled in the study. We compared those that did and did not receive funding support from the federal Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. An anonymous survey was administered to a maximum five personnel from each CHC, including a senior administrator, the medical director, and three medical providers. Overall, 137 participants completed the survey.
Among all CHCs, 53% of administrators reported having implemented routine HIV testing at their CHCs; however, only 33% of medical directors/providers reported having implemented routine HIV testing in their practices (p<0.05). Among administrators, 60% of those from Ryan White-supported CHCs indicated that both they and their CHCs were aware of CDC's recommendations, compared with 27% of administrators from non-Ryan White-supported CHCs. The five most frequently reported barriers to the implementation of routine HIV testing were (1) constraints on providers' time (68%), (2) time required to administer counseling (65%), (3) time required to administer informed consent (52%), (4) lack of funding (35%), and (5) need for additional training (34%). In a multivariable logistic regression model, the provision of on-site HIV testing by nonmedical staff resulted in increased odds of conducting routine HIV testing (odds ratio [OR] = 9.84, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.77, 54.70). However, the amount of time needed to administer informed consent was associated with decreased odds of providing routine testing (OR=0.21, 95% CI 0.05, 0.92).
Routine HIV testing is not currently being implemented uniformly among Massachusetts CHCs. Future efforts to increase implementation should address personnel concerns regarding time and staff availability.
In India men who have sex with men (MSM) are a stigmatized and hidden population, vulnerable to a variety of psychosocial and societal stressors. This population is also much more likely to be HIV-infected compared to the general population. However, little research exists about how psychosocial and societal stressors result in mental health problems. A confidential, quantitative mental-health interview was conducted among 150 MSM in Mumbai, India at The Humsafar Trust, the largest non-governmental organization serving MSM in India. The interview collected information on sociodemographics and assessed self-esteem, social support and DSM-IV psychiatric disorders using the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI). Participants' mean age was 25.1 years (SD=5.1); 21% were married to women. Forty-five percent reported current suicidal ideation, with 66% low risk, 19% moderate risk, and 15% high risk for suicide per MINI guidelines. Twenty-nine percent screened in for current major depression and 24% for any anxiety disorder. None of the respondents reported current treatment for any psychiatric disorder. In multivariable models controlling for age, education, income and sexual identity, participants reporting higher levels of self-esteem and greater levels of satisfaction with the social support they receive from family and friends were at lower risk of suicidality (self-esteem AOR=0.85, 95% CI: 0.78-0.93; social support AOR=0.76, 95% CI: 0.62-0.93) and major depression (self-esteem AOR=0.79, 95% CI: 0.71-0.89; social support AOR=0.68, 95% CI: 0.54-0.85). Those who reported greater social support satisfaction were also at lower risk of a clinical diagnosis of an anxiety disorder (AOR=0.80; 95% CI: 0.65-0.99). MSM in Mumbai have high rates of suicidal ideation, depression and anxiety. Programs to improve self-esteem and perceived social support may improve these mental health outcomes. Because they are also a high-risk group for HIV, MSM HIV prevention and treatment services may benefit from incorporating mental health services and referrals into their programs.
Men who have sex with men (MSM); Mumbai; India; mental health; suicide; depression; anxiety
Depression is one of the most common co-morbidities of HIV infection. It negatively impacts self-care, quality of life, and biomedical outcomes among people living with HIV (PLWH) and may interfere with their ability to benefit from health promotion interventions. State-of-the-science research among PLWH, therefore, must address depression. To guide researchers, we describe the main diagnostic, screening, and symptom-rating measures of depression, offering suggestions for selecting the most appropriate instrument. We also address cultural considerations in the assessment of depression among PLWH, emphasizing the need to consider measurement equivalence and offering strategies for developing measures that are valid cross-culturally. Finally, acknowledging the high prevalence of depression among PLWH, we provide guidance to researchers on incorporating depression into the theoretical framework of their studies and employing procedures that account for participants with depression.
HIV/AIDS; Depression; Research Methods; Measurement
In 2010, the iPrEx trial demonstrated that oral antiretroviral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) reduced the risk of HIV acquisition among high-risk men who have sex with men (MSM). The impact of iPrEx on PrEP knowledge and actual use among at-risk MSM is unknown. Online surveys were conducted to assess PrEP awareness, interest and experience among at-risk MSM before and after iPrEx, and to determine demographic and behavioral factors associated with these measures.
Methods and Findings
Cross-sectional, national, internet-based surveys were administered to U.S. based members of the most popular American MSM social networking site 2 months before (n = 398) and 1 month after (n = 4 558) publication of iPrEx results. Comparisons were made between these samples with regards to PrEP knowledge, interest, and experience. Data were collected on demographics, sexual risk, and experience with post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Regression analyses were performed to identify factors associated with PrEP awareness, interest, and experience post-iPrEx. Most participants were white, educated, and indicated high-risk sexual behaviors. Awareness of PrEP was limited pre- and post-iPrEx (13% vs. 19%), whereas interest levels after being provided with a description of PrEP remained high (76% vs. 79%). PrEP use remained uncommon (0.7% vs. 0.9%). PrEP use was associated with PEP awareness (OR 7.46; CI 1.52–36.6) and PEP experience (OR 34.2; CI 13.3–88.4). PrEP interest was associated with older age (OR 1.01; CI 1.00–1.02), unprotected anal intercourse with ≥1 male partner in the prior 3 months (OR 1.40; CI 1.10–1.77), and perceiving oneself at increased risk for HIV acquisition (OR 1.20; CI 1.13–1.27).
Among MSM engaged in online networking, awareness of PrEP was limited 1 month after the iPrEx data were released. Utilization was low, although some MSM who reported high-risk behaviors were interested in using PrEP. Studies are needed to understand barriers to PrEP utilization by at-risk MSM.
Previous studies have found high rates of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) among US men who have sex with men (MSM). CSA history has been associated with a variety of negative effects later in life including behaviors that place MSM at greater risk for HIV acquisition and transmission. The present analysis is the first to examine the longitudinal association between CSA and HIV infection, unprotected anal sex, and serodiscordant unprotected anal sex, as well as mediators of these relationships among a large sample of HIV-uninfected MSM.
The EXPLORE Study was a behavioral intervention trial conducted in 6 US cities over 48 months with HIV infection as the primary efficacy outcome. Behavioral assessments were done every 6 months via confidential computerized assessments. Longitudinal regression models were constructed, adjusting for randomization arm, geographical location of study site, age at enrollment, education, and race/ethnicity.
Of the 4295 participants enrolled, 39.7% had a history of CSA. Participants with a history of CSA [adjusted hazards ratio = 1.30, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.02 to 1.69] were at increased risk for HIV infection over study follow-up. A significant association was seen between history of CSA and unprotected anal sex (adjusted odds ratio = 1.24, 95% CI: 1.12 to 1.36) and serodiscordant unprotected anal sex (adjusted odds ratio = 1.30, 95% CI: 1.18 to 1.43). Among participants reporting CSA, the EXPLORE intervention had no effect in reducing HIV infection rates. Participants reporting CSA were significantly more likely to have symptoms of depression and use nonprescription drugs.
A predictive relationship between a history of CSA and subsequent HIV infection was observed among this large sample of HIV-uninfected MSM. Findings indicate that HIV-uninfected MSM with CSA histories are at greater risk for HIV infection, report higher rates of HIV sexual risk behavior, and may derive less benefit from prevention programs. Future HIV prevention interventions should address the specific mental health concerns of MSM with a history of CSA.
child sexual abuse; EXPLORE; HIV; MSM; sexual risk taking
Evidence-based HIV prevention interventions with men who have sex with men (MSM) in the United States have moderate effect sizes in reducing HIV sexual risk behavior. Mental health and psychosocial problems, which both disproportionately affect MSM populations and are implicated in HIV transmission risk behaviors, also likely interfere with the uptake of HIV behavioral interventions. Moreover, given that mental health and psychosocial problems such as depression, substance use, and violence frequently co-occur for many MSM (eg, as “syndemic conditions”), what is probably needed are combination prevention efforts, or prevention “cocktails,” similar to treatment “cocktails,” that address the psychological and behavioral mechanisms that interact to produce elevated risk for HIV. Such interventions should incorporate a holistic framework to address the sexual health and overall well-being of MSM. Addressing co-occurring psychosocial risk factors is apt to improve effect sizes of current HIV prevention interventions and allow for more effective uptake by MSM.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) in India are disproportionately likely to be HIV-infected, and face distinct psychosocial challenges. Understanding the unique socio-cultural issues of MSM in India and how they relate to HIV risk could maximize the utility of future prevention efforts. This review discusses: (i) the importance of addressing co-occurring mental health issues, such as depression, which may interfere with MSM's ability to benefit from traditional risk reduction counselling, (ii) reducing HIV-related stigma among health providers, policymakers and the lay public, and (iii) the role for non-governmental organizations that work with the community to play in providing culturally relevant HIV prevention programmes for MSM.
HIV; India; men who have sex with men; MSM; mental health; stigma
Ukraine has one of the most severe HIV/AIDS epidemics in Europe, with an estimated 1.63% of the population living with HIV/AIDS in 2007. Injection drug use (IDU) remains the predominant mode of transmission in Kiev—the capital and largest city. Prior reports suggest that the HIV infection rate among IDUs in Kiev reaches 33%, and many have poor and inequitable access to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Among those with access to HAART, little is understood about barriers and facilitators to HAART medication adherence.
In 5/2009, two semi-structured focus groups were conducted with HIV-infected IDUs seeking treatment at the City AIDS Center, Kiev. The goal was to use this information to adapt and tailor, to Ukrainian culture, an evidence-based intervention for improving adherence to HAART. All 16 participants attributed HIV infection to IDU. Their average age was 31.6 (SD=7.0), average time with HIV 5.7 years (SD=4.0), average time on HAART 2.5 years (SD=1.7), average time as IDU 14.6 years (SD=6.8), and 88% were on opioid substitution therapy.
The most salient themes related to adherence barriers included: (1) harassment and discrimination by police; (2) opioid dependence; (3) complexity of drug regimen; (4) side effects; (5) forgetting; (6) co-occurring mental health problems; and (7) HIV stigma. Facilitators of adherence included: (1) cues for pill taking; (2) support and reminders from family, significant other, and friends; (3) opioid substitution therapy; and (4) wanting improved health. Additional factors explored included: 1) knowledge about HAART; (2) storage of medications; and (3) IDU and sexual risk behaviors.
Findings highlighted structural and individual barriers to adherence. At the structural level, police discrimination and harassment was reported to be a major barrier to adherence to opioid substitution therapy and HAART. Privacy and stigma were barriers at the individual level. Recommendations for adherence interventions included education, training, and identification cards to show police that medication was for treatment of HIV, not for abuse; and involving family members and other systems of support for HIV treatment.
HIV; ARV; IDU; Ukraine; opioid substitution therapy; adherence
As efficacy trials of antiretroviral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) continue, a growing literature has begun anticipating the potential challenges of implementing PrEP for HIV prevention. These efforts coincide with a shift toward combination interventions for preventing HIV, which integrate biomedical, behavioral, and structural components. The optimal implementation of PrEP would exemplify this combination model, incorporating not only PrEP drugs, but also HIV testing, safety screening, behavioral interventions addressing adherence and risk behavior, and long-term monitoring. Efforts to plan for PrEP implementation therefore present an opportunity to advance the science of implementation and delivery in HIV prevention, in order to better address the challenges of scaling up combination approaches. We review the published and unpublished literature on PrEP implementation, organizing themes into five categories: scientific groundwork, regulatory and policy groundwork, stakeholder and infrastructure groundwork, delivery, and long-term monitoring. The lessons from PrEP planning can benefit the scale-up of future combination interventions.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis; HIV prevention; antiretroviral therapy; implementation; dissemination
The sexual health of transmen—individuals born or assigned female at birth and who identify as male—remains understudied. Given the increasing rates of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among gay and bisexual men in the United States, understanding the sexual practices of transmen who have sex with men (TMSM) may be particularly important to promote sexual health or develop focused HIV prevention interventions. Between May and September 2009, 16 transmen who reported sexual behavior with nontransgender men completed a qualitative interview and a brief interviewer-administered survey. Interviews were conducted until redundancy in responses was achieved. Participants (mean age, 32.5, standard deviation [SD] = 11.1; 87.5% white; 75.0% “queer”) perceived themselves at moderately high risk for HIV and STDs, although 43.8% reported unprotected sex with an unknown HIV serostatus nontransgender male partner in the past 12 months. The majority (62.5%) had used the Internet to meet sexual partners and “hook-up” with an anonymous nontransgender male sex partner in the past year. A lifetime STD history was reported by 37.5%; 25.0% had not been tested for HIV in the prior 2 years; 31.1% had not received gynecological care (including STD screening) in the prior 12 months. Integrating sexual health information “by and for” transgender men into other healthcare services, involving peer support, addressing mood and psychological wellbeing such as depression and anxiety, Internet-delivered information for transmen and their sexual partners, and training for health care providers were seen as important aspects of HIV and STD prevention intervention design and delivery for this population. “Embodied scripting” is proposed as a theoretical framework to understand sexual health among transgender populations and examining transgender sexual health from a life course perspective is suggested.