Characteristics of Black Men Who Have Sex With Men in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.: Geographic Diversity in Socio-Demographics and HIV Transmission Risk

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Abstract

Background:

Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC are geographically proximate cities with high HIV prevalence, including among black men who have sex with men (BMSM). Using data collected among BMSM in CDC's National HIV Behavioral Surveillance project, we compared socio-demographic characteristics, HIV risk behaviors, and service utilization to explore similarities and differences that could inform local and regional HIV intervention approaches.

Methods:

BMSM were recruited through venue time location sampling, June–December, 2011. Participants completed identical socio-behavioral surveys and voluntary HIV testing. Analyses were conducted among the full sample and those aged 18–24.

Findings:

Participants included 159 (DC), 364 (Baltimore), and 331 (Philadelphia) eligible BMSM. HIV prevalence was 23.1% (DC), 48.0% (Baltimore), 14.6% (Philadelphia) with 30.6%, 69.0%, 33.3% unrecognized HIV infection, respectively. Among BMSM 18–24, HIV prevalence was 11.1% (DC), 38.9% (Baltimore), 9.6% (Philadelphia) with unrecognized HIV infection 0.0%, 73.8%, 60.0% respectively. Compared with the other 2 cities, Baltimore participants were less likely to identify as gay/homosexual; more likely to report unemployment, incarceration, homelessness, sex exchange; and least likely to use the internet for partners. DC participants were more likely to have a college degree and employment. Philadelphia participants were more likely to report gay/homosexual identity, receptive condomless anal sex, having only main partners, and bars/clubs as partner meeting places. Sexually transmitted disease testing was universally low.

Conclusions:

Analyses showed especially high HIV prevalence among BMSM in Baltimore including among young BMSM. Socio-demographic characteristics and HIV infection correlates differed across cities but unrecognized HIV infection and unknown partner status were universally high.

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