Men Who Have Sex With Men Have a 140-Fold Higher Risk for Newly Diagnosed HIV and Syphilis Compared With Heterosexual Men in New York City

Published: August 18, 2011

Abstract
OBJECTIVES:

To describe the population of men who have sex with men (MSM) in New York City, compare their demographics, risk behaviors, and new HIV and primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis rates with those of men who have sex with women (MSW), and examine trends in infection rates among MSM.
DESIGN:

Population denominators and demographic and behavioral data were obtained from population-based surveys during 2005-2008. Numbers of new HIV and P&S syphilis diagnoses were extracted from citywide disease surveillance registries.
METHODS:

We calculated overall, age- and race/ethnicity-specific case rates and rate ratios for MSM and MSW, and analyzed trends in MSM rates by age and race/ethnicity.
RESULTS:

The average prevalence of male same-sex behavior during 2005-2008 (5.0%; 95% CI, 4.5-5.6) differed by both age and race/ethnicity (2.3% among non-Hispanic black men; 7.4% among non-Hispanic white men). Compared to MSW, MSM differed significantly on all demographics and reported a higher prevalence of condom use at last sex (62.9% vs. 38.3%) and of past-year HIV testing (53.6% vs. 27.2%), but also more past-year sex partners. MSM HIV and P&S syphilis rates were 2,526.9/100,000 and 707.0/100,000, each of which was over 140 times MSW rates. Rates were highest among young and black MSM. Over 4 years, HIV rates more than doubled and P&S syphilis rates increased 6-fold among 18-29 year old MSM.
CONCLUSIONS:

The substantial population of MSM in NYC is at high risk for acquisition of sexually transmitted infections given high rates of newly diagnosed infections and ongoing risk behaviors. Intensified and innovative efforts to implement and evaluate prevention programs are required.

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