Background Men who have sex with men (MSM) experience over half of US HIV infections. Control strategies, including identifying venues with ongoing transmission, are needed. Surveillance efforts traditionally focus on place, rather than internet venues and may miss other high risk populations. The objective of this study was to determine if there were significant differences in HIV-transmission related risk factors including viral load by sex partner meeting venue among newly diagnosed HIV-infected MSM.
Methods Public health surveillance data of newly diagnosed MSM between January 2011 and July 2014 (N = 280) was utilised. Data included reported past-year sex partner meeting venues and transmission risk factors including viral load collected between October 2012 and July 2014.
Results Eighty-four percent of subjects were Black and 48% were ≤24 years-old; 39% reported meeting partners at place only venues (bar/club/park/street), 34% internet only venues (website/mobile-app), and 26% both venue types. Significant differences among the three groups of individuals included differences in reports of sex under the influence of alcohol, numbers of sex partners and chlamydia co-infection at time of HIV diagnosis; individuals reporting both venue types had higher reports in all three characteristics compared to individuals reporting place only and venue only. Individuals reporting both venue types had significantly lower geometric mean viral load (copies/mL) at diagnosis (2,574) than those reporting internet (6,275) or place (11,745) only venues.
Conclusions MSM meeting sex partners at both venue types may be at greater risk for HIV transmission based on number of sex partners, sex under influence of alcohol, and chlamydia infection. Lower viral load may suggest later diagnosis which increases transmission risk. Exploring this population may improve control strategies.
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