HIV risk behaviours among Central and Eastern European MSM in London

Published: July 21, 2010

HIV risk behaviours among Central and Eastern European MSM in London

A. Evans1, G. Hart1, R. Mole2, C. Mercer1, V. Parutis2, C. Gerry2, J. Imrie1,3, F. Burns1

1University College London, Centre for Sexual Health & HIV Research, London, United Kingdom, 2University College London, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, London, United Kingdom, 3Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, Mtubatuba, South Africa

Background: Since May 2004, ten Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries have joined the European Union, leading to a large influx of CEE migrants to the UK. This paper examines HIV risk behaviours among CEE MSM in London.

Methods: As part of the SALLEE project (Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles of London’s East Europeans), 485 CEE MSM in London were recruited for an online questionnaire via two popular websites for MSM (March to May 2009).

Results: A quarter of men reported unprotected anal intercourse with a casual partner of discordant or unknown HIV status in the past year; this was more common in men known to be HIV positive (46.2%) than HIV negative or untested men (21.6%, 37.0% respectively, p< 0.001).
34.1% of men had ever been diagnosed with an STI. The majority were diagnosed in the UK, including 72.2% of syphilis diagnoses. 83.0% of men reported testing for HIV and 5.6% reported being HIV positive. 80.8% had tested positive in the UK. 15.0% of men had paid for sex with a man (50.7% in the UK) and 23.2% had been paid for sex (66.7% in the UK). In the past year, 3.5% had injected drugs and 41.5% had taken recreational drugs.
The countries of origin of most recent male sexual partner were reported as the UK (45.5%), home country (17.8%) and elsewhere (32.4%). 9.5% of men were in a relationship with someone in their home country and 84.1% had returned home at least once in the past year.

Conclusions: The prevalence of HIV in MSM communities is lower in CEE countries than in London. However, these data suggest that CEE MSM in London are at significant risk for acquisition and transmission of HIV. This may have important implications for HIV transmission within Central and Eastern Europe given the often-circular nature of migration.

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