Persistently high prevalence and unrecognized HIV infection among men who have sex with men in Baltimore: the BESURE Study

Published: February 4, 2011


BACKGROUND: Given high rates of HIV among Baltimore MSM, we examined characteristics associated with HIV prevalence and unrecognized HIV infection among Baltimore MSM at two time points.

METHODS: Cross-sectional behavioral surveys and HIV testing in 2004-2005 and 2008 using venue-based sampling among adult Baltimore men at MSM-identified locations. MSM was defined as sex with a male partner in the past year. Bivariate and backwards stepwise regression identified characteristics associated with HIV and unrecognized infection.

FINDINGS: HIV prevalence was 37.7% overall in 2004-2005 (n=645) and 37.5% in 2008 (n=448), 51.4% and 44.7% among Black MSM, and 12.9% and 18.3% among non-Hispanic White MSM. Compared to non-Hispanic White MSM, Black MSM were 4.0 times (95% C.I.: 2.3, 7.0) more likely to be HIV-positive in 2004-2005 and 2.5 times (95% C.I.: 1.5, 4.0) more likely in 2008. Prevalence of unrecognized HIV infection was 58.4% overall in 2004-2005 and 74.4% in 2008, 63.8% and 76.9% among Black MSM, and 15.4% and 47.4% among non-Hispanic White MSM. In adjusted models, unrecognized infection was significantly associated with minority race/ethnicity, younger age, and no prior year doctor visits in 2004-5 and with younger age and no prior year doctor visits in 2008.

CONCLUSION: High rates of HIV infection and substantial rates of unrecognized HIV infection among Baltimore MSM, particularly men of color and young men, require urgent public and private sector attention and increased prevention response.

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