Access of non-specialist sexual health services by men who have sex with men: do they differ from those attending specialist services?

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Abstract

Objectives

Men who have sex with men (MSM) bear a disproportionate burden of STIs. While routine STI surveillance data suggest MSM regularly access specialist genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics for their sexual healthcare, the extent to which MSM attend non-specialist sexual health services (SHSs) is unclear.

Methods

We used data from the GUM Clinic Activity Data Set (GUMCADv2), the national STI surveillance system, to compare the characteristics, service usage and STI outcomes of MSM accessing specialist and non-specialist (non-GUM) SHSs in England in 2014. Pearson's χ2, Student's t-test and logistic regression analysis were used.

Results

Where sexual orientation was recorded (92%), 11% (4552/41 597) of non-GUM attendances were among MSM compared with 28% (280 466/999 331) of GUM attendances (p<0.001). Compared with those attending GUM services, MSM attending non-GUM services were younger (mean age: 30.2 years vs 37.7 years; p<0.001) and were more likely to be of mixed ethnicity (4.9% vs 3.5%; p<0.001), to have had a full sexual health screen (chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and HIV tests) (48.0% vs 37.0%; p<0.001) and to be diagnosed with chlamydia (7.4% vs 4.1%; p<0.001) and gonorrhoea (8.5% vs 6.5%: p<0.001). MSM attending non-GUM services had slightly lower HIV test uptake (87.0% vs 95.0%; p=0.157) and were less likely to be diagnosed with HIV (0.5% vs 0.8%; p=0.019), compared with those attending GUM clinics.

Conclusions

Non-specialist SHSs play an important role in the care of MSM and should ensure services meet their needs.

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