JOURNAL ARTICLE

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) risk, prevention, and testing behaviors—United States, National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System: men who have sex with men, November 2003-April 2005

Travis Sanchez, Teresa Finlayson, Amy Drake, Stephanie Behel, Melissa Cribbin, Elizabeth Dinenno, Tricia Hall, Stacy Kramer, Amy Lansky
MMWR Surveillance Summaries 2006 July 7, 55 (6): 1-16
16826162

PROBLEM/CONDITION: For CDC's goal of reducing the number of new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections to be achieved, data are needed to assess the prevalence of HIV-related risk behaviors at a given time, monitor trends in these behaviors, and assess the correlates of risk. These data also can be used to evaluate the extent to which current HIV-prevention programs are reaching targeted communities and direct future HIV-prevention activities to reduce HIV transmission.

REPORTING PERIOD: November 2003-April 2005.

DESCRIPTION OF SYSTEM: The National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS) System collects risk behavior data from three populations at high risk for HIV infection: men who have sex with men (MSM), injection-drug users, and heterosexual adults in areas in which HIV is prevalent. Data collection began in 2003 among MSM in 17 U.S. metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), and surveys have been conducted in 25 MSAs since 2005. Participants must be aged >/= 18 years and reside in a participating MSA.

RESULTS: This report summarizes data gathered during the first cycle (i.e., data collection period) of NHBS (November 2003-April 2005) from approximately 10,000 MSM. The results indicated that >90% of participants had ever been tested for HIV. Of those, 77% had been tested during the preceding 12 months. In addition to their male sex partners, 14% of participants also had at least one female sex partner during the preceding 12 months. Unprotected anal intercourse was reported by 58% with a main male partner (someone with whom the participant had sex and to whom he felt most committed [e.g., a boyfriend, spouse, significant other, or life partner]) and by 36[corrected]% with a casual male partner (someone with whom the participant had sex but who was not considered a main partner). Noninjection drugs were used by 42% of participants during the preceding 12 months; the most commonly used drugs were marijuana (77%), cocaine (37%), ecstasy (29%), poppers (28%), and stimulants (27%). A substantial proportion (80%) of participants had received free condoms during the preceding 12 months, but fewer had participated in individual- or group-level HIV prevention programs (15% and 8%, respectively).

INTERPRETATION: MSM surveyed engaged in sexual and drug-use behaviors that placed them at increased risk for HIV infection. The majority of MSM surveyed had been tested for HIV infection. Although a substantial proportion of participants had received free condoms, a much smaller proportion had participated in more intensive HIV-prevention programs.

PUBLIC HEALTH ACTION: NHBS data are used to assess and develop effective HIV-prevention programs and services. Continued collection and reporting of NHBS data from all targeted high-risk populations is needed to monitor behavior trends and assess future HIV prevention needs in these populations. The data are used for local HIV-prevention planning and monitoring in MSAs in which NHBS is conducted.

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