Behavior and biological surveillance among MSM in Albania
S. Bino1, M. Dervishi2, R. Bani2, K. Rjepaj2
1Institute of Public Health, Control of Infectious Diseases, Tirana, Albania, 2Institute of Public Health, HIV/AIDS Program, Tirana, Albania
Background: The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in general population is less than 0.1. There are very few specific studies among most at risk populations. The purpose of of the recent biological and behavior surveillance was to get updated measurements of key behavioral and biological indicators for MSM in Tirana, Albania
Methods: A standardized behavior study questionnaire provided in the FHI-published manual Behavioral Surveillance Surveys and adapted to the local situation was used in the study. MSM participants were recruited using the RDS methodology and were asked about network size. MSM were asked specifically about the number of MSM they knew and who likewise knew them.
Results: Almost 90% of MSM were engaged in anal and oral sex with multiple partners in the past 6 months. The majority of MSM (74.2%) also reported a sex engagement with male commercial partners, 85% of whom had two or more partners. Consistent condom use was 57.8% with commercial partners and 44% with non-commercial partners. In addition, 40.7% of MSM reported using lubricants. Even it is estimated that 1.8% of the MSM network in Tirana are living with HIV, 2.5 % of the actual study sample population tested positive for HIV Among the MSM sample, the rate of syphilis was 2.6 %, and the rate of hepatitis C was 3.5%.
Conclusions: Men who have sex with men are at a high risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Current prevalence of HIV in MSM is higher than the general population. HIV prevention strategies in Albania should be targeted on this vulnerable group.