HIV-negative gay men with rectal STIs (sexually transmitted infections) may be more than twice as likely to contract HIV, according to a study conducted by the New York City Department of Health and the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The study followed 276 HIV-negative men who had rectal Chlamydia, rectal gonorrhea or both. They were matched with a control group of 276 HIV-negative men who did not have Chlamydia or gonorrhea. Both groups had about 69% report inconsistent or no condom use, indicating high-risk behavior.
During a total of 464 person-years of follow-up, 11% of men with a rectal STI at baseline were diagnosed with HIV, an annual HIV incidence rate of 11%. HIV incidence was especially high among some groups with rectal STIs. These included black men (15%); men with both Chlamydia and gonorrhea (10%); and those aged under 20 (10%).
The control group participants contributed 474 person-years of follow-up. A total of twelve individuals (4%) were diagnosed with HIV, an annual incidence rate of (3%).
The investigators therefore calculated that men with rectal STIs were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with HIV during follow-up.
In order to nip this in the bud, the authors concluded that, "Identifying and treating rectal infections may reduce HIV incidence. [...] Rectal infections, as markers of behavioral risk, can be used to identify a subset of patients who may benefit from intensive risk reduction counseling and other interventions designed to reduce the risk of HIV transmission."
Given the higher rate of HIV incidence among men with rectal STIs, it seems like a good idea for HIV-negative gay men to talk with their doctors openly and honestly about HIV and other STIs, to get tested for Chlamydia, gonorrhea and other STIs, and to engage in sex with a condom whenever possible.
Mathew Rodriguez is the editorial project manager for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
Follow Mathew on Twitter: @mathewrodriguez.