February 13, 2007
Researchers designed the current study to gain a deeper understanding of the barriers and facilitators related to STD and HIV screening among at-risk men who have sex with men (MSM) in Boston.
A modified respondent-driven sampling technique was used to recruit the cohort. One-on-one semistructured interviews and a quantitative survey were used to examine participants' understanding of STDs and HIV, risk perceptions, reasons for getting (or not getting) tested, and experiences with testing.
Though most of the MSM knew the signs and symptoms of HIV, they were less familiar with STDs, the study found. MSM who had symptoms or were told by a partner of recent exposure were most likely to be screened. Yet many barriers to STD/HIV testing among MSM remain, including lack of awareness of symptoms, misperceptions about the ways STDs are transmitted, and perceived impediments from the health care system, including misgivings about provider sensitivity.
"To decrease current increases in HIV/STDs among MSM, new strategies that include community and provider education are needed," the researchers concluded.