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HIV/AIDS Testing: Men Who Have Sex With Men Should Undergo Frequent HIV Testing

June 21, 2005

In the current study, Randall A. Roark and colleagues at the University of California-San Francisco reported, "HIV counseling and testing has been a cornerstone of AIDS prevention strategies, with men who have sex with men [MSM] being specifically targeted for the counseling and testing. Unfortunately, it appears that exposure to HIV counseling and testing has little effect on the behaviors of those who test negative." Recently, CDC altered its recommendations on when and how frequently MSM should undergo testing for HIV and other STDs, recommending annual testing for sexually active MSM and even more frequent testing for MSM who engage in highest risk behaviors, the researchers noted.

"Using data from our study, we evaluated the new recommendations with respect to HIV testing. Overall, 81 percent of [MSM] in our sample reported never having tested positive for HIV," the researchers stated. Among MSM in South Beach, almost 8 percent tested positive on their current test. Of those testing HIV-positive, just more than half had not been tested in the previous 12 months; just under half said they had tested negative within the past nine months.

"Reporting multiple (four or more) anal sexual partners during the past 12 months was significantly associated with a positive test result," the study found. "Our results support the new CDC guidelines regarding more frequent testing for sexually active men who have sex with men, with having a high number of anal partners being a significant indicator of need for testing more often than annually in our population," the researchers concluded.

The study, "HIV Testing Among Men Who Have Sex with Men: How Often Should One Test?," was published in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice (2005;11(1):18-24).

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Excerpted from:
AIDS Weekly

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