High HIV prevalence among hard to reach gay men in Jamaica is associated with high social vulnerability

Published: January 1, 2008

High HIV prevalence among hard to reach gay men in Jamaica is associated with high social vulnerability

Background:  Due to strong social stigma associated with men who have sex with men (MSM) and HIV, and difficulty reaching MSM, there has been no HIV or behaviour survey among MSM in Jamaica since 1995. HIV prevalence among adults is 1.5%. The objective of this study was to estimate HIV prevalence and identify risk factors among MSM in order to improve prevention approaches.

Methods: Following discussion with MSM stakeholders, an experienced research nurse was introduced to the community and attended their activities. With the help of influential MSM and others she invited MSM in four parishes to participate in a cross-sectional survey between March 2007 and January 2008. MSM were interviewed, blood taken for HIV and syphilis, and urine taken for gonorrhea, Chlamydia and trichomonas (Gen Probe). Sensitive behavioural data was interviewer administered and self-completed. Confidential results were given to participants with treatment as indicated.

Results: 32% of 201 MSM were HIV positive. Prevalence of other STI was lower: Chlamydia 8.5%, syphilis 5.5%, gonorrhea 2.5%, trichomonas 0%. Most of the subjects were under 30 years of age and 60% of those HIV positive were under 25.
 

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