Prevalence and correlates of HIV among MSM in Tijuana, Mexico

Eileen V Pitpitan, David Goodman-Meza, Jose Luis Burgos, Daniela Abramovitz, Claudia V Chavarin, Karla Torres, Steffanie A Strathdee, Thomas L Patterson
Original Article:


Introduction: Men who have sex with men (MSM) in developing countries such as Mexico have received relatively little research attention. In Tijuana, Mexico, a border city experiencing a dynamic HIV epidemic, data on MSM are over a decade old. Our aims were to estimate the prevalence and examine correlates of HIV infection among MSM in this city.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study of 191 MSM recruited through respondent-driven sampling (RDS) in 2012. Biological males over the age of 18 who resided in Tijuana and reported sex with a male in the past year were included. Participants underwent interviewer-administered surveys and rapid tests for HIV and syphilis with confirmation.

Results: A total of 33 MSM tested positive for HIV, yielding an RDS-adjusted estimated 20% prevalence. Of those who tested positive, 89% were previously unaware of their HIV status. An estimated 36% (95% CI: 26.4–46.5) had been tested for HIV in the past year, and 30% (95% CI: 19.0–40.0) were estimated to have ever used methamphetamine. Independent correlates of being infected with HIV were methamphetamine use (odds ratio [OR]=2.24, p=0.045, 95% CI: 1.02, 4.92) and active syphilis infection (OR=4.33, p=0.01, 95% CI: 1.42, 13.19).

Conclusions: Our data indicate that MSM are a key sub-population in Tijuana at higher risk for HIV. Tijuana would also appear to have the highest proportion among upper-middle-income countries of HIV-positive MSM who are unknowingly infected. More HIV prevention research on MSM is urgently needed in Tijuana.

Keywords: men who have sex with men; correlates of HIV infection; HIV prevalence; US–Mexico border; global public health; respondent-driven sampling.
(Published: 9 February 2015)

Citation: Pitpitan EV et al. Journal of the International AIDS Society 2015, 18:19304

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