We evaluated whether routine biannual sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing coupled with brief risk-reduction counseling reduces STD incidence and high-risk behaviors.
The SUN study is a prospective observational HIV cohort study conducted in 4 US cities. At enrollment and every 6 months thereafter, participants completed a behavioral survey and were screened for STDs, and if diagnosed, were treated. Medical providers conducted brief risk-reduction counseling with all patients. Among men who have sex with men (MSM), we examined trends in STD incidence and rates of self-reported risk behaviors before and after exposure to the risk-reduction intervention. The "preintervention" visit was the study visit that was at least 6 months after enrollment STD screening and treatment and at which the participant was first exposed to the intervention. The "postintervention" visit was 12 months later.
Among 216 MSM with complete STD and behavioral data, median age was 44.5 years; 77% were non-Hispanic white; 83% were on highly active antiretroviral treatment; 84% had an HIV RNA level <400 copies/mL and the median CD4 (cluster of differentiation 4) count was 511 cells/mm. Twelve months after first exposure to the risk-reduction intervention, STD incidence declined from 8.8% to 4.2% (P = 0.041). Rates of unprotected receptive or insertive anal intercourse with HIV-positive partners increased (19% to 25%, P = 0.024), but did not change with HIV-negative partners or partners of unknown HIV status (24% to 22%, P = 0.590).
STD incidence declined significantly among HIV-infected MSM after implementing frequent, routine STD testing coupled with risk-reduction counseling. These findings support adoption of routine STD screening and risk-reduction counseling for HIV-infected MSM.
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