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Unprotected Sex, Underestimated Risk, Undiagnosed HIV and Sexually Transmitted Diseases Among Men Who Have Sex With Men Accessing Testing Services in a New England Bathhouse

June 6, 2012

In the United States, MSM continue to experience increased rates of HIV and STDs. The current study reports results from an outreach conducted between 2004 and 2010 at a bathhouse in Providence, R.I., in which 1,155 MSM underwent testing for HIV and/or STDs.

The testing revealed the following prevalence rates: HIV, 2.3 percent; syphilis, 2.0 percent; urethral gonorrhea, 0.1 percent; urethral chlamydia, 1.3 percent. Antibodies to hepatitis C were detected in 2.2 percent of the men.

Unprotected anal intercourse in the preceding two months was reported by 43.2 percent of the MSM; however, a majority of men said they "thought that their behaviors did not put them at increased risk for HIV or STDs," the authors wrote.


Multivariate analyses indicated that the participants who engaged in unprotected anal intercourse were more likely to have had sex with partners who were HIV-positive or of unknown status; have sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs; tended to select partners on the Internet; and also were more likely to have a primary male partner.

The MSM who were recently found to have HIV or syphilis tended to be older than age 30; had sex with an HIV-positive partner; previously been diagnosed with an STD; and met partners through the Internet.

"For 10.5 percent of the men, bathhouse testing was the first time that they had ever been screened for HIV. Of 24 men who were newly diagnosed with HIV infection, only one was not successfully linked to care. These data suggest that offering HIV and STD testing in a bathhouse setting is effective in attracting MSM who are at increased risk for HIV and/or STD acquisition or transmission," the authors concluded.

Back to other news for June 2012

Adapted from:
Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
02.01.2012; Vol. 59; No. 2: P. 194-198; Kenneth H. Mayer, MD; and others

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Fact Sheet: HIV/AIDS and Young Men Who Have Sex With Men
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
More on HIV Prevention Issues for Gay Men

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