November 15, 2011
More than 1.1 million people in the United States were living with HIV at the end of 2006, and about 53 percent of the estimated 56,000 new infections that year were among men who have sex with men. The authors of the current report summarized data from the second National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS) System data-collection cycle among MSM conducted June-December 2008.
NHBS collects risk behavior data from MSM, injection-drug users, and heterosexual adults at increased risk for HIV. Participants must be at least 18 years old, live in a participating metropolitan statistical area, and be able to complete a behavioral survey in English or Spanish. Men who reported being infected with HIV or who had no male sex partners during the past 12 months were not included in this analysis, which was based on data from 8,175 MSM.
In addition to having at least one male sex partner, 14 percent of participants had at least one female sex partner in the previous 12 months. Unprotected anal intercourse with a male partner was reported by 54 percent, including 37 percent with a main partner and 25 percent with a casual partner.
In the past 12 months, 46 percent reported noninjection drug use, including marijuana (38 percent), cocaine (18 percent), amyl nitrate or "poppers" (13 percent), and ecstasy (11 percent). Just 2 percent reported injection drug use for non-medical purposes during the past 12 months.
Of MSM, 90 percent reported having ever been tested for HIV, and 51 percent had received a hepatitis vaccination. Within the past 12 months, 62 percent reported having been tested for HIV, 35 percent were tested for syphilis, and 18 percent reported participating in an individual-level or group-level HIV behavioral intervention.
"MSM in the United States continue to engage in sexual and drug-use behaviors that increase the risk for HIV infection," the study authors reported. "Although many MSM had been tested for HIV infection, many had not received hepatitis vaccinations or syphilis testing, and only a small proportion had recently participated in a behavioral intervention. To reduce HIV infection among MSM, additional effort is needed to decrease the number of men who are engaging in risk behaviors while increasing the number who recently have been tested for HIV.
"The National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States delineates a coordinated response to reduce infections and HIV-related health disparities among MSM and other disproportionately affected groups. NHBS data can be used to monitor progress toward the goals of the national strategy and to guide national and local planning efforts to maximize the impact of HIV prevention programs."