HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections and Sexual Practices Among Male Sex Workers Attending a Sexual Health Clinic in Melbourne, Australia: 2010 to 2018.Sex Transm Dis. 2021 02 01; 48(2):103-108.ST
There are limited data on HIV/sexually transmitted infection (STI) positivity and sexual practices among male sex workers (MSWs) both globally and particularly in Australia. This study aimed to explore demographic characteristics, sexual practices, and HIV/STI positivity among MSWs attending a sexual health clinic in Melbourne.
We analyzed computerized medical records of all first-visit consultations with men 18 years or older who self-identified as current sex workers and attended the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre (MSHC) between 2010 and 2018. Demographic data, sexual behavior data, and laboratory results for HIV, syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea were collected as part of routine clinical care at Melbourne Sexual Health Centre.
Of the 190 MSWs included in the analysis, the median age was 28 years (interquartile range, 23-30 years), 30.4% (52/171) reported having condomless penile-anal sex with their clients, and 59.6% (102/171) reported having condomless penile-oral sex with their clients since their last STI screening. Most (85.6%) MSWs had noncommercial sex partners, including 56.5% with male partners only, 30.6% with female partners only, and 12.9% with both. Approximately half of MSWs used condoms consistently with noncommercial sex partners (regardless of partner gender). The positivity for incident HIV was 1.7% (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.0%-5.0%), that for syphilis was 6.1% (95% CI, 2.6%-10.5%), that for chlamydia was 9.6% (95% CI, 5.6%-14.9%), and that for gonorrhea was 10.8% (95% CI, 4.4%-20.9%). Male sex workers who exclusively had sex with women had a lower any HIV/STI positivity (0%) compared with MSW who had sex with men (15.7%; P = 0.013).
Male sex workers fall into 2 groups: those who had male clients and/or noncommercial partners who have a relatively high HIV/STI positivity and those who only had female partners or clients whose HIV/STI positivity is low. Both have a high proportion of condomless sex with clients and noncommercial sex partners. Strategies to increase condom use during sex work are needed.