HIV prevalence and undiagnosed infection among gay men in Scotland
posted on: Mar 19, 2014
Results from the sixth triennial cross-sectional survey of gay and bisexual men attending commercial gay venues in Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland have been published in PLoS One. This publication describes HIV prevalence, HIV testing behaviour, and risk factors for HIV positivity among this community sample and compares the 2011 results with those from 2005 and 2008. The study was designed and co-ordinated by Dr Lisa McDaid and the survey team in the MRC unit. In addition to completing survey questionnaires, men were invited to provide oral fluid samples for anonymous HIV testing.
A good response rate (65.2%), comparable to previous years, was achieved. The data indicate that while HIV prevalence (4.8%) has remained stable between 2005 and 2011, the level of undiagnosed HIV infection in MSM in 2011 remains the same as that recorded in 2008 (25.4%), and there has been only a small increase in HIV testing. The continuing transmission of HIV among gay and bisexual men is a public health concern and HIV testing is considered to be one of the most important measures in reducing HIV transmission. Testing uptake in Scotland increased in the early part of the last decade, largely as a result of the introduction of opt-out testing. These results however, indicate that despite a higher proportion (50.7%) of the cohort describing recent HIV testing (that is within the previous 12 months), compared to previous survey years, the current opt-out policy may have reached its limit with regards to maximising HIV test uptake. Thus, novel strategies are required to improve regular testing opportunities and more frequent testing in this group. Furthermore, older age (>25 years) and a sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnosis within the previous 12 months were (independently) associated with HIV positivity. Sexual health screening therefore, presents an opportunity for HIV prevention and safer sex advice with both HIV-negative and HIV-positive men.
Read the full article here.