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

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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 city-wide disease surveillance registries.

Methods

We calculated overall, age-specific 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 to 5.6) differed by both age and race/ethnicity (2.3% among non-Hispanic black men; 7.4% among non-Hispanic white men). Compared with 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 2526.9/100,000 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-year-old to 29-year-old MSM.

Conclusions

The substantial population of MSM in New York City 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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