According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MSM (men who have sex with men, including gay and bisexual men) in the United States are disproportionately at risk for and affected by STDs and HIV.
In a recent test in five US cities, researchers found that one in eight MSM had valid results for chlamydia and/or gonorrhea in the throat or rectum. The five cities were Houston, Miami, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, DC.
Several authors, as well as the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance Sexually Transmitted Infection Study Group, published the report this week.
The National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS) swabbed thousands of MSM at community venues (bars, clubs, fitness centers, etc.) in the five cities.
2,075 of the participants had valid results, and 13.3% were infected with at least one of the pathogens tested.
The findings of the report also found that one-third of MSM had not screened for STDs in the past year. Further, the prevalence of gonorrhea was also higher among HIV positive MSM, which is supported by past research.
The authors of the report conducted the study based on the NHBS’ sampling in community venues because previous reports have been based on ‘clinic-based samples of patients’. As this previous data came from men specifically seeking medical care, the authors determined ‘reported estimates might not reflect prevalences among a broader population of MSM’.
Recommendations and limitations
In conclusion, the report’s authors discussed both limitations of the study, as well as recommendations based on the findings.
Some of the limitations included that only five cities made up the sample’s data.
‘Although the cities were geographically and sociodemographically diverse, extrapolation to all US cities is not appropriate,’ the report states. It also cannot extrapolate the data to the larger MSM population.
One more limitation is that the NHBS only took two samples for the tested STDs. More samples such as urine could have revealed more.
‘The asymptomatic nature of extragenital STDs and high prevalences found in this population further support the need for regular screening of all sexually active MSM at all anatomic sites of exposure,’ the authors recommend.
‘Improved access to culturally competent care and clinician adherence to screening guidelines for MSM are critical components in reducing the STD disparities that affect this population.’
Author: Anya Crittenton
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