4% of HIV+ gay men have recent sexually transmitted infection

July 11, 2002

Three percent of HIV-infected gay men in New York and San Francisco had a current syphilis infection, half of one percent had a current case of chlamydia or gonorrhea when tested between 2000-2001, according to UCSF researchers.

"Ninety-six percent of these HIV-positive MSM (men who have sex with men) with sexually transmitted infections (STI) had received HIV-related health care in the previous six months. This implies a lack of prevention messages with any impact from their primary healthcare providers," said Cynthia A. Gómez, PhD, UCSF assistant professor of medicine at UCSF's Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS).

"These rates of STI among HIV-positive MSM are higher than previously reported and suggest an increase in unprotected sex. The high rates point out the critical need for clinicians to screen regularly for sexually transmitted infections and to deliver effective risk reduction messages to their patients," said Gómez, who is presenting the findings at the XIV International AIDS Conference in Barcelona, Spain.

Infection with herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2) was common with 62 percent testing positive. New research suggests that HIV-infected individuals co-infected with HSV-2 are more likely to transmit HIV. In addition, 18 percent of the men had latent or previously treated syphilis.

The study looked at 1,110 HIV-infected MSM recruited in San Francisco and New York from AIDS service organizations, gay venues, and public sex environments. They all had reported sex with an HIV-negative partner or a partner of unknown sero-status in the previous year. The mean age was 41, and 45 percent were white, 28 percent African-American, 17 percent Latino, and 9 percent were other or mixed race.
Co-authors of the study are Caroline J. Bailey, MA; Ann O'Leary, PhD; and Cindy Lyles, PhD all from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Colleen Hoff, PhD, specialist at UCSF CAPS; Jeffrey Parsons, PhD, co-director of the Center for HIV/AIDS Educational Studies and Training (CHEST) at Hunters College; Perry Halkitis, PhD, assistant professor of applied psychology at New York University; and the Seropositive Urban Men's Intervention Trial (SUMIT) team.

The study was funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

University of California - San Francisco

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