FULL-LENGTH ARTICLE: A Preliminary Profile of HIV Risk in a Clinic-Based Sample of MSM in Puerto Rico: Implications for Sexual Health Promotion Interventions

Michael C. Clatts, Carlos E. Rodríguez-Díaz, Hermes García, Ricardo L. Vargas-Molina, Gerardo G. Jovet-Toledo, Lloyd Goldsamt


Objective: Puerto Rico has one of the fastest growing HIV epidemics in the United States and - consistent with patterns observed in the Caribbean region as a whole - data on new infections shows the increased influence of sexual transmission in the local epidemic. Historically, both epidemiology and prevention activities have focused primarily on the islands’ large heroin injector population. Although the available surveillance data indicate high rates of STIs and HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM), there has been little social and behavioral research among MSM and hence little empirical information to inform intervention development and planning. Methods: Given the absence of data on MSM and their importance in the emerging epidemic on the island, this paper describes a sample of MSM patients in an STI/HIV treatment center in the San Juan metropolitan area between October 2009 and June 2011 (n=120). Assessment of sexual risk includes measures of onset of oral, vaginal, and anal sex, as well as current sexual practices and partner characteristics. Self-reported history of STI diagnoses and current HIV status are described. Results: Overall, MSM evidenced relatively large numbers of multiple, concurrent sexual partners, substantial age-discordance among partners, and limited condom use. Relative to HIV-negative MSM, HIV-positive MSM have had more cumulative male sexual partners in anal intercourse (p=0.005). HIV-negative MSM were more likely to have had sex without a condom at last receptive anal intercourse (p=0.012) as well as at last insertive anal sex intercourse (p=0.001). Conclusion: Priorities for advancing HIV interventions for MSM are delineated, including the need for targeted sexual health interventions, mental health services, and improved strategies for engaging and retaining MSM in health services.


HIV; MSM; Puerto Rico; sexual health

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