Peru has a concentrated HIV epidemic in which men who have sex with men are particularly vulnerable. We describe the lifetime prevalence of same-sex sexual contact and associated risk behaviors of men in Peru's general population, regardless of their sexual identity.
METHODS AND RESULTS:
A probability sample of males from low-income households in three Peruvian cities completed an epidemiologic survey addressing their sexual risk behavior, including sex with other men. Serum was tested for HSV-2, HIV, and syphilis. Urine was tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea. A total of 2,271 18-30 year old men and women were contacted, of whom 1,645 (72.4%) agreed to participate in the study. Among the sexually experienced men surveyed, 15.2% (85/558, 95% CI: 12.2%-18.2%) reported a history of sex with other men. Men ever reporting sex with men (MESM) had a lower educational level, had greater numbers of sex partners, and were more likely to engage in risk behaviors including unprotected sex with casual partners, paying for or providing compensated sex, and using illegal drugs. MESM were also more likely to have had previous STI symptoms or a prior STI diagnosis, and had a greater prevalence of HSV-2 seropositivity.
Many low-income Peruvian men have engaged in same-sex sexual contact and maintain greater behavioral and biological risk factors for HIV/STI transmission than non-MESM. Improved surveillance strategies for HIV and STIs among MESM are necessary to better understand the epidemiology of HIV in Latin America and to prevent its further spread.