HIV-related Risk Behaviors among a Sample of Men who have Sex with Men in Puerto Rico: An Overview of Substance Use and Sexual Practices

Vivian Colón López, Carlos E. Rodríguez-Díaz, Ana P. Ortiz, Marivelisse Soto-Salgado, Erick Suárez, Cynthia M. Pérez


Objective: Despite the growing impact of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic in Puerto Rico (PR ), limited epidemiological research on men who have sex with men (MSM) has been conducted. The aim of this study was to describe HIV-related risk behaviors in a sample of MSM in PR. Methods: A secondary data analysis of a household survey of the adult population of PR was performed in order to describe substance use and sexual practices related to HIV transmission and seropositivity for hepatitis A virus (HAV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), HIV, and type 2 herpes simplex virus (HSV-2) in MSM. Data regarding substance use and sexual practices were collected using audio computerassisted self-interviewing (A-CASI). Descriptive statistics were used to examine lifetime and recent (12 months) prevalence of substance use and sexual practices. Results: Of the 640 men interviewed, 41 (6.4%) reported having ever had sex with another man on at least one occasion. Approximately one-fourth of MSM reported having used marijuana (24.4%) and cocaine (24.4%) in the past 12 months. Nearly 42% of the MSM reported an early age of sexual initiation ( < 15 years), and 61% reported having had at least 10 sexual partners in their lifetime. Seropositivity rates for HAV, HSV-2, HIV, HCV, and HBV were 43.3%, 32.4%, 7.3%, 4.9%, and 4.9%, respectively. Conclusion: This is the first study to attempt to examine high-risk behaviors related to HIV in a population-based sample of MSM in PR. Concurrent efforts that will help to intensify research and prevention initiatives among MSM are necessary, especially those that will enhance awareness of screening for HIV, HCV, and other sexually transmitted infections, access to HAV and HBV vaccinations, substance use, and identification of social barriers.


MSM, HIV Infection, Sexual Behavior, Substance Use, Epidemiology, Puerto Rico

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