HIV Among MSM and Heterosexual Women in the United States: An Ecologic Analysis

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Phylogenetic studies show links between heterosexual women and men who have sex with men (MSM) that are more numerous than from heterosexual men to women suggesting that HIV infections among heterosexual women may stem from MSM. Poor communities have been associated with high rates of HIV among heterosexual women. Our analysis investigates potential transmission of HIV between MSM and female heterosexuals.


National HIV Behavioral Surveillance data describe transmission risk behaviors of MSM, and HIV case reporting data describe the percentages of cases that are attributed to transmission risk categories. We examined correlations between the percentages of men who were MSM who also have sex with women and female heterosexual cases. We also examined census data to characterize each city in terms of poverty level and race/ethnicity makeup.


There was a high correlation (0.93) between the percentage of reported living HIV cases attributed to male heterosexual contact and female heterosexual contact and a moderate nonsignificant correlation (0.49) between the percentage of MSM who were men who have sex with men and women (MSMW) in National HIV Behavioral Surveillance and the percentage of reported cases that were attributed to female heterosexual contact suggesting some potential overlap. Cities with high levels of poverty and African American/Black residents had higher levels of MSMW and higher levels of heterosexual female cases.


Addressing HIV in cities with high levels of MSMW may have the dual effect of improving the health of MSM populations that have a high burden of HIV and to improve the health of their larger communities.

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