Utilization of Sexually Transmitted Infection Services at 2 Health Facilities Targeting Men Who Have Sex With Men in South Africa: A Retrospective Analysis of Operational Data

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Abstract

Background

Men who have sex with men (MSM) are a key population, particularly vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV, but there are limited data on health programs targeting MSM in Africa. This study aims to describe the utilization of nongovernmental organization–supported sexual health services for MSM at 2 public sector health facilities in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Methods

We retrospectively analyzed routine data over the period of January 2014 to June 2016. We report on service utilization for STI syndromes, HIV testing, and the antiretroviral therapy (ART) program.

Results

Some 5796 men visited the facilities. Seven thousand one hundred eighty-eight STI episodes were managed, 68.2% (4903 episodes) of which were classified as male urethritis and 9.8% (704 episodes) as genital ulcers. Positivity yield for first-time HIV tests was 38.0% (205 positive test results) in MSM, compared with 14.1% (471 positive test results) in other men. At the end of the study, there were 1090 clients on ART, and 2-year retention was 82% (95% confidence interval, 78%–85%). There was no difference in retention between MSM and other men (P = 0.49).

Conclusions

This study is the first to show that sexual health services targeting MSM in Africa have managed to attract MSM and other men in need of STI and HIV care. The observed high HIV testing yield among MSM illustrates the relevance of MSM-focused services in the South African public health sector, and the good retention on ART demonstrates that high-quality care can be provided to MSM in our setting.

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