HIV and syphilis prevalence trends among men who have sex with men in Guangxi, China: yearly cross-sectional surveys, 2008-2012

Published: July 4, 2014

 Men who have sex with men (MSM) represent the fastest growing key population for incident HIV cases in China. We examined five consecutive years of HIV and syphilis prevalence and risk factors data among MSM in Guangxi Province with the second highest estimated number of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) in China in 2011. 

Methods: We collected demographic and behavioral data from national sentinel surveillance and HIV/syphilis blood samples in five annual cross-sectional surveys from 2008 to 2012.

We analyzed HIV and syphilis prevalence trends stratified by social/behavioral characteristics. 

Results: HIV prevalence climbed steadily from 1.7% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.0 to 3.0) in 2008 to 3.7% (95% CI: 3.0 to 5.0) in 2012. Syphilis prevalence increased steadily from 5.1% (95% CI: 4.0 to 6.0) in 2008 to 8.4% (95% CI: 7.0 to 10.0) in 2012.

HIV prevalence rose notably among MSM who were <=25 years of age, never married, did not engage in sexual intercourse with women in the past six months, and had not been tested for HIV in the past year. Syphilis prevalence rose notably among MSM who were >25 years of age, ever married or living with a partner, and engaged in sexual intercourse with women in the past six months.

HIV prevalence was much higher in MSM with current syphilis than without. Finally, current syphilis was the most significant predictor of HIV infection, and age was the most significant predictor of syphilis infection. 

Conclusions: HIV and the syphilis prevalence expansion among MSM suggest an urgent public health prevention challenge for Guangxi provincial health officials.

Risk factors for each infection differed such that all MSM, each of whom might be at risk of HIV, syphilis or both, should be targets for heavy intervention.

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