Men Who Have Sex With Men Have a 140-Fold Higher Risk for Newly Diagnosed HIV and Syphilis Compared With Heterosexual Men in New York City

Published: November 30, 2011

The current study describes the population of men who have sex with men in New York City, comparing MSM demographics, risk behaviors, new HIV infections, and primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis rates with those of men who have sex with women (MSW).

Population denominators and demographic and behavioral data were obtained from population-based surveys during 2005-08, while new HIV and P&S syphilis diagnoses were extracted from city-wide disease surveillance registries. The study authors calculated overall, age-specific and race/ethnicity-specific case rates and rate ratios, analyzing trends in MSM rates by age and race/ethnicity.

The average prevalence of male same-sex behavior during 2005-08 (5 percent; 95 percent confidence interval: 4.5-5.6) differed by both age and race/ethnicity (2.3 percent of non-Hispanic black men; 7.4 percent among non-Hispanic white men). Compared with MSW, MSM differed significantly on all demographics and reported higher condom-use prevalence at last sex (62.9 percent vs. 38.3 percent) and past-year HIV testing (53.6 percent vs. 27.2 percent), but also more past-year sex partners.

MSM HIV and P&S syphilis rates were 2,526.9 cases per 100,000 population and 707.0 cases per 100,000 population respectively, which were each over 140 times MSW rates. Rates were highest among young and black MSM. During four years, HIV rates more than doubled and P&S syphilis rates increased 6-fold among MSM ages 18-29.

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