HIV prevalence and risk behaviours among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Bulgaria, 2005-2007
T. Varleva1, E. Naseva1, T. Yakimova1, V. Georgieva2, Y. Choudhri3, H. Taskov2
1Ministry of Health, Program ‘Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS’, Sofia, Bulgaria, 2National Centre of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, Sofia, Bulgaria, 3EpiPlus International, Kanata, Canada
Background: Integrated biological and behavioral surveillance (IBBS) among MSM in Bulgaria has been conducted yearly since 2006. The objective of this presentation is to describe prevalence of selected blood-borne pathogens including HIV and risk behaviours in MSM.
Methods: The sexual behaviours among MSM were assessed through a face-to-face interview undertaken during repeated annual cross-sectional venue-based surveys at 4 sites. With informed consent, blood samples were tested anonymously for HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and syphilis.
Results: A total of 307 MSM participated in the survey, the mean age was 25.1 years; 14.3% have ever been married. HIV prevalence among MSM increased from 0% in 2006 to 2.3% in 2007. HIV infection was observed only in Sofia and Plovdiv. Two thirds of the respondents (65.5%) reported using condom the last time they had anal sex. 64.4% of the respondents have had anal sex with non-regular partner during the last 30 days; 71.1% of them reported using condom during their last anal intercourse with non-regular partner. 45.2% reported using condom every time they had sex with non-regular partner in the previous 6 months.One third of the respondents (33.5%) have had sex with woman during the last 6 months. 53.4% reported using condom the last time they had sex and 39.8% reported using condom every time they had sex with woman during the last 6 months.
Conclusions: There is increased prevalence of sexual risk taking among MSM in Bulgaria, both with their male as well as female sex partners thereby putting them at increased risk of HIV. Additional research is needed to assess the factors behind increased sexual risk taking and observed increase in HIV prevalence in order to plan appropriate HIV prevention and control programmes.