HIV seroprevalence, self-reported STIs and associated risk factors among men who have sex with men: a cross-sectional study in Rwanda, 2015

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In many populations, men who have sex with men (MSM) are at a high risk of HIV infection. This study aimed to estimate the burden of HIV, other STIs and risk behaviours among Rwandan MSM.


In this cross-sectional study, we recruited through peer referral men aged between 18 and 60 years, who reported sex with men at least once in the 12 months prior to the survey. Representativeness was increased using ‘seeds' from a variety of sources. Signed informed consent was obtained from all participants. Data on demographics, risk behaviours and self-reported STIs were collected through an interviewer-administered questionnaire. We screened all eligible participants for HIV using the Rwanda-approved protocol for rapid HIV detection.


504 MSM were recruited from five major cities in Rwanda. Participants were mostly young (median age 23 years, range 18-55 years) and unmarried (484/504, 96.0%). Thirteen per cent (65/504) of the participants reported past gonorrhoea and/or syphilis infection. Of 504 MSM, 53 (10.5%) reported they were diagnosed and treated for gonorrhoea in the past 12 months and 24 (4.8%) tested positive for HIV. A high proportion (232/504, 46%) reported receiving payment for sex by a man, with almost half of these reporting on more than three occasions (107/232, 46%). Many reported having had an HIV test within the past 12 months (385/504, 76.4%). In multivariate logistic regression models controlling for age, being paid for sex was associated with higher odds of past STI (OR 3.36 (1.82-6.43]; P<0.001) and testing HIV positive (OR 3.13, P<0.05).


Further research is needed to understand the high rate of payment for sex in this population, which appears to be a major risk factor for STI including HIV.

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