Recent trends in diagnoses of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in England and Wales among men who have sex with men
- Health Protection Agency, Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ, UK
- Correspondence to: Neil Macdonald HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections Department, Health Protection Agency, Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ, UK;
- Accepted 2 September 2004
Objectives: To examine trends in rates of diagnoses of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in men who have sex with men (MSM) in England and Wales between 1997 and 2002.
Methods: Estimates of the MSM population living in England and Wales, London and the rest of England and Wales were applied to surveillance data, providing rates of diagnoses of HIV and STIs and age group specific rates for HIV and uncomplicated gonorrhoea.
Results: Between 1997 and 2002, rates of diagnoses of HIV and acute STIs in MSM increased substantially. Rates in London were higher than elsewhere. Rises in acute STIs were similar throughout England and Wales, except for uncomplicated gonorrhoea and infectious syphilis, with greater increases outside London. Rates of gonorrhoea diagnoses doubled between 1999 and 2001 (661/100 000, 1271/100 000, p<0.001) in England and Wales followed by a slight decline to 1210/100 000 (p = 0.03) in 2002—primarily the result of a decline in diagnoses among men aged 25–34 (1340/100 000, 1128/100 000, p<0.001) and 35–44 (924/100 000, 863/100 000, p = 0.03) in London. HIV was the third most common STI diagnosed in MSM in England and Wales and the second in London, with the highest rate (1286/100 000) found among men aged 35–44 in London in 2002.
Conclusions: Rates of diagnosis of HIV and other STIs have increased substantially among MSM in England and Wales. Increases show heterogeneity by infection, geography, and age over time. Rates in London were twice those seen elsewhere, with greatest changes over time. The observed changes reflect concomitant increases in high risk behaviour documented in behavioural surveillance survey programmes.
- GUM, genitourinary medicine
- HAART, highly active antiretroviral therapy
- MSM, men who have sex with men
- STIs, sexually transmitted infections
- UAI, unprotected anal intercourse
Conflict of interest: None.