March 30, 2010
A 2008 survey of 500 D.C. men who have sex with men (MSM) found that 14 percent had HIV, according to data released by the D.C. HIV/AIDS Administration (DCHAA).
Of the MSM newly diagnosed as HIV-positive, more than 40 percent previously had been unaware of their infection status. In all, 70 percent of MSM newly diagnosed with HIV had visited a health care provider in the previous 12 months, but only slightly more than one-third had been offered an HIV test.
More than 40 percent of MSM interviewed said they did not use a condom during the last sexual encounter. Although MSM of color reported almost twice the rate of condom use as white MSM, more men of color than white men were HIV-positive. Nearly 75 percent of HIV-positive MSM were over age 30. Those less likely to report condom use were men younger than 30 who practiced receptive anal sex and those over 30 who practiced insertive sex.
The survey is only representative of MSM who attended the venues where recruitment took place -- including gyms, bars, restaurants, and clubs frequented by MSM -- so it "may under-represent some groups," said the D.C. Department of Health (DOH). For instance, 52 percent of participants were men of color, while nearly 60 percent of MSM in the city are black, according to a 2008 study issued by DCHAA. Further studies are necessary to reach a representative MSM sample, officials said.
In response, DOH said it is preparing a new strategic plan to reduce HIV and its impact among MSM. DOH said it could complete the plan by this summer. DOH is advising MSM to seek HIV testing twice a year.
The 2008 D.C. data were gathered as part of CDC's National HIV Behavioral Surveillance system, which operates in 21 U.S. cities.