October 28, 2010
Guidelines in Australia recommend that all men who have sex with men be tested annually for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Testing every three to six months is recommended for MSM defined by behavioral criteria as being at higher risk. In the current study, the authors assessed HIV and STI retesting rates among MSM attending primary care clinics.
The researchers conducted a retrospective follow-up of HIV-negative MSM tested for HIV or STIs (chlamydia or syphilis) at four primary care clinics from April to December 2006. Retesting rates were calculated over 18 months. Logistic regression was used to identify predictors of adherence to guidelines.
Of the MSM requiring annual HIV testing under the guidelines, 35 percent retested at one year (762/2,163). Six-month retesting rates for those at higher risk were 15 percent (283/1,862). In a subgroup reporting 11 or more male sex partners in the past six months, six-month HIV retesting rates were 19 percent. The following were identified as independent predictors of HIV retesting within six months: reporting 11 or more male sex partners in the past six months (adjusted odds ratio 3.1, 95 percent confidence interval 1.8 to 4.8); being born overseas (AOR 2.0, 95 percent 1.2 to 3.4); and previous HIV testing more than 12 months earlier (AOR 3.3, 95 percent CI 1.9 to 5.5).
"There is poor adherence to national guidelines that recommend regular retesting of MSM for STIs, particularly among those at higher risk who require more frequent testing," the authors concluded. "Clinical strategies are urgently needed to encourage more frequent HIV/STI testing among MSM, especially in the higher risk groups."