An emerging HIV risk environment: a preliminary epidemiological profile of an MSM POZ Party in New York City
- Institute for International Research on Youth at Risk, National Development and Research Institutes, Inc, 71 West 23rd Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10010, USA
- Correspondence to: Michael C Clatts PhD, Institute for International Research on Youth at Risk, National Development and Research Institutes, Inc, 71 West 23rd Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10010, USA;
- Accepted 7 February 2005
Objective: To develop a preliminary epidemiological description of a men who have sex with men (MSM) “POZ Party,” an emerging sex environment for HIV+ MSM.
Methods: As part of a pilot study in New York City in 2003, data were collected using a brief, behavioural intercept survey at entry to POZ Party events. Domains include demographic characteristics, history of HIV infection, motivations for attending POZ parties, lifetime and recent exposure to drugs (including use during POZ Party events), and recent sexual practices (both within both POZ Party venues as well as in non-POZ Party venues).
Results: Predominantly white and over the age of 30, subjects in the sample include a broad range of years living with HIV infection. Motivations for using a POZ Party venue for sexual partnering include relief from burdens for serostatus disclosure, an interest in not infecting others, and opportunities for unprotected sexual exchange. High rates of unprotected sex with multiple partners are prevalent in the venue. Although the sample evidences high rates of lifetime exposure to illicit drugs, relatively little drug use was reported in these sexual environments. These reports are consistent with evidence from direct observation at the venues themselves, in which no drug use was apparent.
Conclusion: Serosorting among HIV+ MSM may reduce new HIV infections, a stated interest of both POZ Party organisers and participants alike. However, high rates of unprotected anal intercourse within these venues signal continued risk for STIs. Additionally, unprotected sexual contact with HIV partners and status unknown partners outside POZ Party venues heightens concern for diffusion of HIV superinfection.