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.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Effectiveness of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis in Peru

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

Condoms 'too small' for Uganda men

Sep 19, 2014

Ugandan MPs have been inundated with complaints that many condoms on sale in the east African nation are too small, warning the problem is a blow to the fight against AIDS.

Withdrawal from the evolutionary race

Sep 18, 2014

In some HIV sufferers, the immune system does not fight off the immune deficiency virus. Instead, the body tolerates the pathogen. A research team headed by ETH Zurich has now determined how strongly patients ...

The genetics of coping with HIV

Sep 16, 2014

We respond to infections in two fundamental ways. One, which has been the subject of intensive research over the years, is "resistance," where the body attacks the invading pathogen and reduces its numbers. Another, which ...

User comments