Unsafe Sexual Behavior and Correlates of Risk in a Probability Sample of Men Who Have Sex With Men in the Era of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy

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Objective:To assess the levels and correlates of potential exposure to and transmission of HIV in a contemporary, community-based probability sample of men who have sex with men (MSM).Methods:In 2003, 311 sexually active MSM participated in a random-digit dial telephone survey in Seattle neighborhoods with a high prevalence of MSM. The primary outcomes were potential exposure to and transmission of HIV, defined as unprotected anal intercourse with a man of opposite or unknown HIV status in the preceding 12 months.Results:Fourteen percent of respondents reported being HIV-positive, 77% reported being HIV-negative, and 8% had not been tested. Of 241 HIV-negative MSM, 25 (10%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 7–15%) were potentially exposed to HIV; among 45 HIV-positive MSM, 14 (31%; 95% CI, 20–46%) were potential HIV-transmitters. Among HIV-negative men, the strongest bivariate correlates of potential exposure to HIV were recent bacterial sexually transmitted disease (odds ratio [OR], 5.8), number of recent male sexual partners (OR, 1.01 per partner), recent sex at a bathhouse (OR, 9.1), and recent use of sildenafil (OR, 4.4), amyl nitrite (OR, 6.2), and methamphetamine (OR, 8.0). Among HIV-infected men, the strongest correlates of potential HIV transmission were recent use of amyl nitrite (OR, 3.1), number of recent male sex partners (OR, 1.07 per partner), and having a male spouse or domestic partner (OR, 0.3).Conclusions:Most MSM knew their HIV status and adopted safer sexual behaviors to reduce their risk of HIV acquisition or transmission. However, 10% of HIV-negative MSM and 31% of HIV-positive MSM recently engaged in behaviors that placed them at high risk for acquiring or transmitting HIV.

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