In a recently published article, Faculty Scholar and Assistant Professor of medicine Rupa Patel, along with her colleagues, worked to identify sex venue-based networks utilized by men who have sex with men through a cross-sectional design. This information would be used to inform HIV preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) dissemination efforts.
The paper, “Sex Venue-Based Network Analysis to Identify HIV Prevention Dissemination Targets for Men Who Have Sex with Men” was published online on January 1 by the Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
HIV incidence among young men who have sex with men (MSM) remains high. However, men who utilize a daily antiretroviral, preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP), have a significantly reduced probability of contracting HIV. Among the problem, though, are other factors that weigh in, such as racial and economic disparities in obtaining PrEP.
By conducting a cross-sectional study, Dr. Patel and her research team were able to interview 49 participants who were MSM. Informed on what venues these participants recent sexual partners were found, the team was able to organize the venues grouped by condom use and race. They found that among these MSM with a median age of 27 years, “49% were Black and 86% reported condomless anal sex. A myriad of other factors were also included, such as recreational drugs utilized, number of total sex partners in the past 6 months, and knowledge of HIV positive partners. The team discussed the fact that this study was “among the first to use network analysis to evaluate at-risk populations to inform PrEP implementation efforts” stating that “the network structures of sex venues for at-risk MSM differed by race.”
The study concluded that network information and education can amplify HIV prevention efforts, allowing greater dissemination in subpopulations. This would include increased education and spread of PrEP use, working to eradicate HIV transmission among at-risk MSM.