Objective Young men having sex with men (MSM) are a high-risk group involved in on-going transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STI). To improve our understanding of this epidemic, distribution of STI and testing behaviour in young MSM attending STI clinics in the Netherlands was analysed.
Methods National STI surveillance data on young MSM (15–24 years) for 2006–2011 were analysed. STI included were chlamydia, gonorrhoea, infectious syphilis and HIV. Chi-square test for trend was performed to analyse time trends in testing behaviour and STI positivity rates, multivariable logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with STI positivity.
Results Number of consultations in young MSM increased from 1161 in 2006 to 3167 in 2011 (+166%). The proportion not aware of their HIV status decreased from 51% in 2006 to 32% in 2011 (p < 0.05). Between 2006 and 2011, STI positivity rate increased from 17.4% to 20.6% (p < 0.05), caused by a significant increase in positivity rate for chlamydia (9.5% to 11.0%) and gonorrhoea (8.4% to 10.1%). Syphilis positivity rate decreased significantly over time, HIV remained stable.
In multivariable analyses, factors significantly associated with an STI were being notified (OR:2.8; 95% CI: 2.5–3.2), multiple sex partners (OR:2.4; 95% CI: 2.0–3.0), previous STI (OR:1.9; 95% CI: 1.6–2.1) and being involved in sex work (OR:1.5; 95% CI: 1.2–1.9). In addition, non-Dutch young MSM were at significantly higher risk for an STI, as were homosexual men compared to bisexual men (OR: 1.3; 95% CI: 1.1–1.4).
Conclusions Since the number of consultations and the proportion aware of their HIV status increased over time, awareness for STI seems to be increasing in young MSM. However, gonorrhoea and chlamydia positivity rates are still increasing. Therefore special attention needs to be maintained towards counselling and reaching specific high-risk sub-groups, including young migrant MSM and young MSM involved in sex work to limit on-going transmission of STI.
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