Is knowledge about HIV among MSM in Buenos Aires related to HIV seroinfection?

Published: July 22, 2010

Is knowledge about HIV among MSM in Buenos Aires related to HIV seroinfection?

M.A. Pando1, R. Marone2, V. Barreda2, C. Dolezal3, I.C. Balan3, A. Carballo-Diéguez3, M.M. Avila1

1Centro Nacional de Referencia para el SIDA, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2Nexo Asociación Civil, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 3HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, Columbia Univ, New York, United States

Background: Men who have sex with men (MSM) are at high risk for HIV infection in Argentina. The objective of the study was to see if knowledge about HIV transmission is related with the probability of HIV infection in MSM.
Methods: The Brief HIV Knowledge Questionnaire (HIV-KQ-18) was self-administered to MSM recruited through RDS (respondent driven sampling) for a study on predictors of HIV risk behavior among MSM. Participants answered items by indicating whether they think each is “true,” “false,” or “don’t know”. A single score was obtained by summing the items answered correctly (“don’t know” responses are scored incorrect). Scores range from 0 to 17 because one item was removed from the questionnaire. Higher scores indicate greater knowledge. The survey also collected demographic information and HIV testing history. All analyses were weighted by the inverse of their personal network size.
Results: 498 MSM who depicted a 15.7%HIV prevalence completed the HIV-KQ-18. The median test score was 12, (mean=10.59, SD 4.02, 25th percentile=8, 75th percentile=14, and range 0-17). Only 13 (2.6%) participants answered all the items correctly. Higher HIV Knowledge scores were associated with higher formal education, identifying as gay, and having more friends that are MSM. HIV-positive men had higher HIV Knowledge scores than HIV-negative men, even when participants who were aware of their HIV status prior to study participation were excluded from the analyses. HIV prevalence was significantly higher in those with elevated formal education level.
Conclusions: Analysis of HIV-KQ-18 suggests that information alone is not enough for HIV prevention given that MSM with higher formal education level and with higher HIV knowledge score have higher HIV prevalence. Other factors besides information should be considered when prevention campaigns are developed.

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