Do men who have sex with men underestimate their HIV risk and miss out on preventive PrEP?

Men who have sex with men (MSM) have a disproportionately high risk of acquiring HIV, and unprotected sex between men accounts for most new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. Yet this population tends to underestimate their HIV risk and not take advantage of effective options such as pre-exposure prophylaxis drug treatment to prevent HIV infection, as documented in an article published in LGBT Health.

Demetre Daskalakis, MD, MPH, Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai (New York, NY), Timothy Gallagher, New York University School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital Center, and coauthors evaluated a group of MSM being tested for HIV to determine their HIV risk and whether they would be candidates for PrEP, based on demographic factors, sexual activity, and drug use during the previous three months. The authors also asked the questions to assess how they perceived their own risk for HIV infection. The large discrepancy between actual risk and perception of risk among MSM is described in the article "Self-Perception of HIV Risk and Candidacy for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Among Men Who Have Sex with Men Testing for HIV at Commercial Sex Venues in New York City."

"For those MSM most at risk of HIV infection, adherence to a daily regimen of PrEP and use of condoms can potentially slow the forward transmission of HIV to the point that the epidemic cannot be maintained in regions where it is propelled by new infections among MSM," says Editor-in-Chief William Byne, MD, PhD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY. "For this to occur, both MSM and their providers must be more knowledgeable about PrEP and assessment of HIV risk. Importantly, the U.S. Public Health Service just this month issued a on PrEP that addresses indications for use and assessment of HIV risk."

More information: The article is available free on the LGBT Health website.

Related Stories

Effectiveness of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis in Peru

date Oct 09, 2012

In this week's PLOS Medicine, Anna Borquez from Imperial College London and an international group of authors developed a mathematical model representing the HIV epidemic among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transwomen in Lim ...

Recommended for you

Indiana HIV outbreak, hepatitis C epidemic sparks US alert

date Apr 24, 2015

Federal health officials helping to contain an HIV outbreak in Indiana state issued an alert to health departments across the U.S. on Friday, urging them to take steps to identify and track HIV and hepatitis C cases in an ...

Why are HIV survival rates lower in the Deep South than the rest of the US?

date Apr 22, 2015

The Deep South region has become the epicenter of the US HIV epidemic. Despite having only 28% of the total US population, nine states in the Deep South account for nearly 40% of national HIV diagnoses. This region has the highest HIV diagnosis rates and the highest number of people living with HIV of any ...

A bad buzz: Men with HIV need fewer drinks to feel effects

date Apr 20, 2015

Researchers at Yale and the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System compared the number of drinks that men with HIV infection, versus those without it, needed to get a buzz. They found that HIV-infected men were more sensitive to ...

Research informs HIV treatment policy for inmates

date Apr 16, 2015

A national, five-year study of care for inmates with HIV brought strangers together, produced policy change in the Delaware Department of Corrections and documented the importance of good communication and ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.