Attempts to document changing HIV incidence rates among MSM are compromised by issues of generalizability and statistical power. To address these issues, this paper reports annualized mean HIV incidence rates from the entire published incidence literature on MSM from Europe, North America and Australia for the period 1995–2005. Publications that met the entry criteria were coded for region of the world, sampling method and year of study. From these reports, we calculated a mean incidence rate with confidence intervals for these variables. Although no differences in mean incidence rates were found for MSM from 1995 to 2005, HIV incidence rates are lower in Australia than either North America or Europe. We calculated a mean incidence rate of 2.39% for MSM in the United States, which if sustained within a cohort of MSM, would yield HIV prevalence rate of approximately 40% at age 40. These extrapolations overlap published HIV prevalence rates for MSM younger than age 40 in the United States. HIV incidence rates in the 2–3% range will adversely affect the health of gay male communities for decades to come. This analysis suggests that greater attention should be devoted to the question of how best to design prevention interventions that will lower HIV incidence rates among gay men.
Men who have sex with men; HIV/AIDS; Epidemiology; Prevention
This study analyzed data from a large prospective epidemiologic cohort study among men who have sex with men (MSM), the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study, to assess syndemic relationships among Black MSM in the cohort (N = 301). We hypothesized that multiple interconnections among psychosocial health conditions would be found among these men, defining syndemic conditions. Constituents of syndemic conditions measured included reported depression symptoms, sexual compulsiveness, substance use, intimate partner violence (IPV), and stress. We found significant evidence of syndemics among these Black men: depression symptoms were independently associated with sexual compulsiveness (odds ratios [OR]: 1.88, 95% CI = 1.1, 3.3) and stress (OR: 2.67, 95% CI = 1.5, 4.7); sexual compulsiveness was independently associated with stress (OR: 2.04, 95% CI = 1.2, 3.5); substance misuse was independently associated with IPV (OR: 2.57, 95% CI = 1.4, 4.8); stress independently was associated with depression symptoms (OR: 2.67, 95% CI = 1.5, 4.7), sexual compulsiveness (OR: 2.04, 95% CI = 1.2, 3.5) and IPV (OR: 2.84, 95% CI = 1.6, 4.9). Moreover, men who reported higher numbers of syndemic constituents (three or more conditions) reportedly engaged in more unprotected anal intercourse compared to men who had two or fewer health conditions (OR: 3.46, 95% CI = 1.4–8.3). Findings support the concept of syndemics in Black MSM and suggest that syndemic theory may help explain complexities that sustain HIV-related sexual transmission behaviors in this group.
HIV; Syndemics; Black men; Sexual risk; Epidemiology
We tested a theory of syndemic production among men who have sex with men (MSM) using data from a large cohort study.
Participants were 1551 men from the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study enrolled at 4 study sites: Baltimore, Maryland–Washington, DC; Chicago, Illinois; Los Angeles, California; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Participants who attended semiannual visits from April 1, 2008, to March 31, 2009, completed an additional survey that captured data about events throughout their life course thought to be related to syndemic production.
Using multivariate analysis, we found that the majority of life-course predictor variables (e.g., victimization, internalized homophobia) were significantly associated with both the syndemic condition and the component psychosocial health outcomes (depressive symptoms, stress, stimulant use, sexual compulsivity, intimate partner violence). A nested negative binomial analysis showed that the overall life course significantly explained variability in the syndemic outcomes (χ2 = 247.94; P < .001; df = 22).
We identified life-course events and conditions related to syndemic production that may help to inform innovative interventions that will effectively disentangle interconnecting health problems and promote health among MSM.
The social marginalization and victimization experienced by sexual minority youth (SMY) may lead to increased risk behaviors and higher rates of negative health outcomes compared with their heterosexual peers.
We conducted a meta-analysis to examine whether SMY reported higher rates of sex while intoxicated. Studies that report rates of substance use during sex in both SMY and heterosexual youth and had a mean participant age of 18 or less were included in our meta-analysis. Effect sizes were extracted from six studies (nine independent data sets and 24 effect sizes) that met study criteria and had high inter-rater reliability (.98).
Results indicated that SMY were almost twice as likely to report sex while intoxicated as compared with heterosexual peers. A random-effects meta-analysis showed a moderate ([overall weighted effect OR]= 1.91, p < .0001) weighted effect size for the relationship between sexual orientation and the use of drugs at the time of sexual intercourse, with the mean effect size for each study ranging from 1.21 to 3.50 and individual effect sizes ranging from .35 to 9.86.
Our findings highlight the need for healthcare providers to screen SMY for participation in substance use during sexual intercourse and to offer risk reduction counseling during office visits.
LGBT health; Adolescent health; Health disparities; Adolescent sexual health
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.
Men who have sex with men; Serosorting; HIV
Several decades of research have shown that lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) adults are at high risk for substance use and substance use disorders, and a recent meta-analysis shows that these disparities most probably begin in adolescence; however, no studies to date have examined longitudinal growth in substance use in LGB youth and heterosexual youth to determine if they follow different trajectories into young adulthood. The primary aims of this paper were to estimate individual trajectories of substance use in youth and examine differences between self-identified LGB and heterosexual subsamples.
A school-based, longitudinal study of health-related behaviors of adolescents and their outcomes in young adulthood was used to test our hypotheses (The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health). Participants were included if they were interviewed at all three waves and were not missing information regarding self-identified sexual orientation (n = 10 670).
Latent curve models (LCMs) showed that LGB identity was associated significantly with individual variability in substance use intercepts and slopes, above and beyond age, race and gender. Self-identified LGB youth reported higher initial rates of substance use and on average their substance use increased over time more rapidly than did substance use by heterosexual youth. Two other indicators of sexual orientation (same-sex romantic attraction and same-sex sexual behavior) were also associated with substance use trajectories, and differential results were found for youth who identified as ‘mostly heterosexual’ and bisexual compared with youth who identified as completely heterosexual or homosexual.
Sexual orientation is an important risk marker for growth in adolescent substance use, and the disparity between LGB and heterosexual adolescents increases as they transition into young adulthood. More research is needed in order to examine: causal mechanisms, protective factors, important age-related trends (using a cohort-sequential design), the influence of gay-related developmental milestones, curvilinear effects over time and long-term health outcomes.
Bisexual; gay; lesbian; longitudinal; substance use; youth
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is highly prevalent among Human Immunodeficiency Virus-seropositive (HIV+) men who have sex with men (MSM). There is a need for additional research to determine the correlates of HIV+ and HIV-seronegative (HIV−) MSM, especially regarding non-antiretroviral medication use.
This study examined the prevalence of ED and the socio-demographic, medical conditions, medication use, and substance use correlates of ED among HIV+ and HIV− MSM.
A modified version of the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) for MSM was self-administered by participants enrolled in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS), an ongoing prospective study of the natural and treated histories of HIV infection among MSM in the United States. The study sample included 1,340 participants, including 612 HIV+ and 728 HIV− men. Poisson regression with robust error variance was used to estimate prevalence ratios of ED in multivariable models in combined (HIV+/−) and separate analyses.
Main outcome measure
ED was determined by the summed scores of a modified version of the IIEF validated among MSM.
Twenty-one percent of HIV+ MSM and 16% of HIV− MSM reported ED. Being >55 years of age, Black race, cumulative pack-years of smoking, cumulative antihypertensive use, and cumulative antidepressant use had significant positive associations with the prevalence of ED in the total sample. Among HIV+ men, duration of antihypertensive use and antidepressant use were significantly associated with increasing prevalence of ED. Among HIV− men, being >55 years of age, Black race, and cigarette smoking duration were associated with increased prevalence of ED.
Predictors of ED may differ by HIV status.. Although smoking cessation and effective medication management may be important as possible treatment strategies for ED among all MSM, there may be a burden on sexual functioning produced by non-HIV medications for HIV+ men.
We examined associations between stimulant use (methamphetamine and cocaine) and other substances (nicotine, marijuana, alcohol, inhaled nitrites) with immune function biomarkers among HIV-seropositive (HIV+) men using highly active antiretroviral therapy (ART) and -seronegative (HIV−) men in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS). Among HIV+ men, cumulative adherence to ART (4.07, 95% CI: 3.52, 4.71, per 10 years of adherent HAART use), and recent cohort enrollment (1.38; 95% CI: 1.24, 1.55) were multiplicatively associated with increases in CD4+/CD8+ ratios. Cumulative use of methamphetamine (0.93; 95% CI: 0.88, 0.98, per 10 use years), cocaine (0.93; 95% CI: 0.89, 0.96, per 10 use years), and cumulative medical visits (0.99; 95% CI: 0.98, 0.99, per 10 visit years), each showed small negative associations with CD4+/CD8+ ratios. Among HIV- men, cumulative medical visits (0.996; 95% CI: 0.993, 0.999), cumulative number of male sexual partners (0.999; 95% CI: 0.998, 0.9998, per 10 partner years) and cigarette pack years (1.10; 95% CI: 1.02, 1.18, per 10 pack years) were associated with CD4+/CD8+ ratios over the same period. ART adherence is associated with a positive immune function independent of stimulant use, underscoring the influence of ART on immune health for HIV+ men who engage in stimulant use.
HIV; men; methamphetamine; cocaine; CD4+/CD8+ ratio; antiretroviral therapy; adherence; Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study
The association between methamphetamine use and HIV seroconversion for men who have sex with men (MSM) was examined using longitudinal data from the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study.
Seronegative (n=4003) men enrolled in 1984–85, 1987–1991 and 2001–2003 were identified. Recent methamphetamine and popper use were determined at either the current or the previous visit. Time to HIV-seroconversion was the outcome of interest. Covariates included race/ethnicity, cohort, study site, educational level, number of sexual partners, number of unprotected insertive anal sexual partners (UIAS), number of unprotected receptive anal sexual partners (URAS), insertive rimming, cocaine use at either the current or last visit, ecstasy use at either the current or last visit, any needle use since last visit, CES-D depression score > 16 since last visit, and alcohol consumption.
After adjusting for covariates, there was an approximately 1.46-fold independent increased relative hazard (HR) of HIV seroconversion for methamphetamine use. The HR associated with popper use was 2.1 [95% CI 1.63, 2.70]. The HR of HIV seroconversion increased with URAS ranging from 1.87 [95% CI 1.40, 2.51] for 1 partner to 9.32 [95% CI 6.20, 13.98] for 5+ partners. The joint HR for methamphetamine and popper use was 3.05 [95% CI 2.12, 4.37]. Most notably, there was a significant joint HR for methamphetamine use and URAS of 2.71 [95% CI 1.81, 4.04] for men with 1 unprotected receptive anal sex partner, which increased in a dose-dependent manner for >1 partners.
Further examination of the synergism of patterns of drug use and sexual risk behaviors on rates of HIV seroconversion will be necessary in order to develop new HIV prevention strategies for drug-using MSM.
Multicenter AIDS cohort study; methamphetamine; HIV seroconversion; MSM
We compared the likelihood of childhood (i.e., <18 years) sexual abuse, parental physical abuse, and peer victimization based on sexual orientation.
We conducted a meta-analysis of adolescent school-based studies that compared the likelihood of childhood abuse among sexual minorities vs sexual nonminorities.
Sexual minority individuals were on average 3.8, 1.2, 1.7, and 2.4 times more likely to experience sexual abuse, parental physical abuse, or assault at school or to miss school through fear, respectively. Moderation analysis showed that disparities between sexual minority and sexual nonminority individuals were larger for (1) males than females for sexual abuse, (2) females than males for assault at school, and (3) bisexual than gay and lesbian for both parental physical abuse and missing school through fear. Disparities did not change between the 1990s and the 2000s.
The higher rates of abuse experienced by sexual minority youths may be one of the driving mechanisms underlying higher rates of mental health problems, substance use, risky sexual behavior, and HIV reported by sexual minority adults.
“Seroadaptation” comprises sexual behaviors to reduce the risk of HIV acquisition and transmission based on knowing one’s own and one’s sexual partners’ serostatus. We measured the prevalence of seroadaptive behaviors among men who have sex with men (MSM) recruited through time-location sampling (TLS) across three perspectives: by individuals (N=1,207 MSM), among sexual dyads (N=3,746 partnerships), and for sexual episodes (N=63,789 episodes) in the preceding six months. Seroadaptation was more common than 100% condom use when considering the consistent behavioral pattern of individuals (adopted by 39.1% vs. 25.0% of men, respectively). Among sexual dyads 100% condom use was more common than seroadaptation (33.1% vs. 26.4%, respectively). Considering episodes of sex, not having anal intercourse (65.0%) and condom use (16.0%) were the most common risk reduction behaviors. Sex of highest acquisition and transmission risks (unprotected anal intercourse with a HIV serodiscordant or unknown status partner in the riskier position) occurred in only 1.6% of sexual episodes. In aggregate, MSM achieve a high level of sexual harm reduction through multiple strategies. Detailed measures of seroadaptive behaviors are needed to effectively target HIV risk and gauge the potential of serosorting and related sexual harm reduction strategies on the HIV epidemic.
Stimulant drug use is associated with numerous health problems among men who have sex with men (MSM). This paper describes how stimulant drug use changes over a four and one-half year period from 2003 until 2008. Participants were 2,389 men (17,222 person-visits) from The Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS)—an ongoing, prospective study of HIV infection among MSM. Group-based trajectory analyses of data from these men over the study period yielded a four groups solution: consistent users (9.8%), men whose use increased (5.4%), men whose use declined (6.9%), and abstinent or rarely-using men (77.9%). There were significant differences between groups in terms of demographic, behavioral risk and HIV serostatus. Men who increased or decreased stimulant drug use over time reported congruent changes in sexual risk taking. The fact that sexual risk levels parallel stimulant drug use over time suggests that finding ways to lower rates of stimulant drug use among MSM could be a tool in HIV prevention.
Drug use; Gay men’s health; HIV risk behavior; MSM; Stimulant use
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.
Several decades of research have shown that lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) adults are at high risk for substance use and substance use disorders (SUDs). These problems may often start prior to young adulthood; however, relatively little is known about risk for substance use in LGB adolescents. The primary aims of this paper were to conduct a meta-analysis of the relationship between sexual orientation and adolescent substance use and a systematic review and critique of the methodological characteristics of this literature.
Medical and social science journals were searched using Medline and PsychInfo. Studies were included if they tested the relationship between sexual orientation and adolescent substance use. Eighteen published studies were identified. Data analysis procedures followed expert guidelines, and used National Institutes of Health (NIH)-sponsored meta-analysis software.
LGB adolescents reported higher rates of substance use compared to heterosexual youth (overall odds ratio = 2.89, Cohen's d = 0.59). Effect sizes varied by gender, bisexuality status, sexual orientation definition and recruitment source. None of the studies tested mediation and only one tested moderation. One employed a matched comparison group design, one used a longitudinal design, and very few controlled for possible confounding variables.
The odds of substance use for LGB youth were, on average, 190% higher than for heterosexual youth and substantially higher within some subpopulations of LGB youth (340% higher for bisexual youth, 400% higher for females). Causal mechanisms, protective factors and alternative explanations for this effect, as well as long-term substance use outcomes in LGB youth, remain largely unknown.
Adolescence; alcohol; bisexual; drugs; gay; lesbian; meta-analysis; sexual minority; sexual orientation; youth
This study examined relationships between timing of gay-related developmental milestones, early abuse, and emergence of poor health outcomes in adulthood among 1,383 gay/bisexual men in the Urban Men’s Health Study. Latent Profile Analysis grouped participants as developing early, middle or late based on the achievement of four phenomena including age of first awareness of same-sex sexual attractions and disclosure of sexual orientation. Participants who developed early were more likely, compared to others, to experience forced sex and gay-related harassment before adulthood. They were more likely to be HIV seropositive and experience gay-related victimization, partner abuse and depression during adulthood. Early forced-sex, gay-related harassment and physical abuse were associated with several negative health outcomes in adulthood including HIV infection, partner abuse, and depression. This analysis suggests that the experience of homophobic attacks against young gay/bisexual male youth helps to explain heightened rates of serious health problems among adult gay men.
HIV; Homosexuality; Abuse; Psychosexual development
Recent reports have suggested that the use of alcohol or drugs is related to sexual behavior that is high-risk for HIV infection. If substance use leads to unsafe sexual activity, understanding the dynamics of this relationship can contribute to research, preventive and education efforts to contain the spread of AIDS. In this paper, we review research on the relationship between substance use and high-risk sexual behavior. We then consider the inherent limitations of the research designs used to study this relationship, outline some methodological concerns including measurement and sampling issues, and comment on causal interpretations of correlational research findings. We end with a consideration of potential avenues for avenues for future research and a discussion of implications of these findings for current AIDS prevention policies.
We examined potential correlates of sex without HIV disclosure within a sample of 875 participants from the HIV Cost and Services Utilization Study. Interviews with each participant assessed sexual activities with up to six recent partners, and this study included both respondent and partnership characteristics. Compared with marriage and/or primary same-sex relationsips, occasional partnerships and one-time encounters were associated with sex with disclosure, and shorter relationships were more likely to involve sex without disclosure. Knowledge of partner scrostatus was also associated with sex without disclosure. Women were less likely to have sex without disclosure than men having sex with men. We found an association between the perceived duty to disclosure to all partners and sex without disclosure, while we found no association in multivariate analyses between outcome expectancies and sex without disclosure.
Disclosure; Sexual behavior; HIV-positive adults; Cross-sectional study
In January 2005, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hosted a national consultation of scientists, public health officials, and community service providers to address growing concerns about the association of methamphetamine use and sexual risk behavior for HIV/STD infection, which is well documented among men who have sex with men. The purpose of the consultation was to review a representation of the current state of the science and practice on the topic in order to reduce the situational link of methamphetamine use and sexual risk. A set of suggestions for future research and programs were developed by the participants. This article provides a summary of content and recommendations from the consultation, and not an exhaustive review of the literature.