Sexual health risk assessment among men who have sex with men in Northern Ohio: actual vs. perceived risks

Published: July 21, 2010

Sexual health risk assessment among men who have sex with men in Northern Ohio: actual vs. perceived risks

J. Yonke1, M. Tungsiripat2, A. Taege3

1Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, United States, 2Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Infectious Diseases, Cleveland, United States, 3Cleveland Clinic, Infectious Diseases, Cleveland, United States

Background: Recently syphilis rates have markedly increased in men who have sex with men (MSM) nationally and locally. These increases have correlated with increased HIV incident rates in MSM. MSM are continuing to engage in behaviors shown to increase the risk of STD and HIV. The objective of this study is to describe the correlates of “risky” sexual health behavior of inconsistent condom usage in men who have sex with men (MSM) in northern Ohio.

Methods: Individuals ≥ 16 years old identifying as male or transgender attending the 2005 Cleveland Gay Pride Festival participated in an anonymous sexual risk assessment survey. Demographic, perceptions of personal risk behaviors, and HIV/ STD risk factor data were obtained by structured questionnaire.

Results: Of the 504 surveys, the median age was 31 years: 368 (73%) Caucasian; 430 (85%) MSM; 45 (9%) known HIV+. 144 (29%) subjects ‘always’ used condoms. The “always” used condoms group had a median 2.5 partners vs. 2.7 in the not “always” group (p=0.68).Regarding perceived risk of HIV/ STD transmission, 221 (44%) subjects responded “not at all likely.” Those who perceived themselves at some risk for HIV transmission were no more likely to use condoms “always” (OR=0.95; 95% CI 0.64, 1.4). Other factors associated with not “always” condom use were past STD history (OR=1.1; 95% CI 0.71, 1.17), marijuana use (OR=1.27; 95% CI 0.82, 1.97), and cocaine use (OR=1.39; 95% CI 0.68, 2.8).

Conclusions: Not always using condoms would be expected to be associated with a higher perceived risk of HIV. Our results suggest actual risk behavior is not associated with perceived risk in MSM. Self-reported illicit drug usage was associated with risky behavior. Overall, condom utilization remained low. Further education or interventions are needed.

 

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