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Sex Transm Infect. 2004 Dec;80(6):498-504.

Seroprevalence of and risk factors for HIV-1 infection among South American men who have sex with men.

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  • 1US Military HIV Research Program and Henry M Jackson Foundation, 1 Taft Court, Suite 250, Rockville, MD 20850, USA.



Sex among men constitutes an important route of transmission for HIV type 1 (HIV-1) in Latin America. Seeking better understanding of risk behaviours in this region, we determined the seroprevalence, potential risk factors, and geographic distribution of HIV-1 among groups of men who have sex with men (MSM).


Seroepidemiological, cross sectional studies of 13,847 MSM were conducted in seven countries of South America during the years 1999-2002. Volunteers were recruited in city venues and streets where anonymous questionnaires and blood samples were obtained. HIV-1 infection was determined by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) screening and western blot (WB) confirmatory tests.


HIV-1 seroprevalence varied widely (overall 12.3%, range 11.0%-20.6%). The highest HIV-1 seroprevalence was noted in Bolivia (20.6%) and the lowest in Peru (11.0%). Predictors of HIV-1 infection varied among countries; however, a history of previous sexually transmitted disease (STD) was associated with a consistent increased risk (ORs=1.9-2.9, AORs=1.8-2.7). Multiple weekly sexual contacts was found to represent a secondary risk factor in Ecuador, Peru, and Argentina (ORs=1.6-2.9, AORs=1.6-3.1), whereas use of drugs such as cocaine was found to increase risk in Bolivia, Uruguay, and Paraguay (ORs=2.5-6.5, AORs=2.6-6.1).


The results of this study illustrate an elevated HIV-1 seroprevalence among MSM participants from Andean countries. A previous STD history and multiple partners predicted HIV-1 infection in the seven countries of South America. In Southern Cone countries, HIV-1 infection was also associated with use of illegal drugs such as cocaine.

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