Introduction In Australia, men who have sex with men (MSM) are targeted to curb the spread of HIV and STIs. ‘Non-gay’ identifying MSM (NGMSM) may not identify with health messages, impacting knowledge of HIV/STI harm minimisation and result in poorer health-seeking behaviours. NGMSM and other men who have sex with men and women are often hidden to clinical services. These men may act as bridges for HIV/STI transmission to female partners. Novel strategies to reach this group include opportunistic HIV/STI screening at sex on premises venues (SOPV). We compared the demographics, testing and sexual behaviour of MSM attending a SOPV to MSM attending an established sexual health clinic (SHC).
Method A daytime SOPV HIV/STI screening service was conducted 2–3 consecutive days per month from November 2015 for 12 months. All patrons were offered testing. The comparison group were MSM attending a local SHC for screening the week following each SOPV clinic. The SHC operates weekdays with appointment and walk-in options. At both sites, participants consented to provide demographic information, contact details and a brief sexual history. Demographics, sexual behaviour and testing practices were compared between the 2 groups.
Results During the study period 84 men tested at the SOPV and 108 at the SHC. SOPV testers were older (mean age, 48.4 years. vs 34.6 years.; p<0.001) and were more likely to have had sex with a female in the past 12 months (49/84, 58% vs. 19/105, 18%; p<0.001). Compared with SHC testers, more SOPV testers had never had an HIV test (23/84, 27% vs. 12/108, 11%; p<0.01). In the previous 3 months, 100% condom use with regular partners was similar in both groups (SOPV 33/84, 39% vs. SHC 37/105, 35%; p=0.67).
Conclusion Inconsistent condom use with casual and regular sex partners, combined with higher reported rates of sex with females, may enable SOPV testers to act as bridges for STI/HIV transmission between MSM and heterosexual populations. Our findings have implications for HIV/STI service provision, contact tracing and local health promotion initiatives.
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