Objective Men who have sex with men (MSM) remain vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and are advised to be tested at least twice a year. The aim of this study was to assess the determinants of test frequency and their associations with an STI diagnosis.
Design A 6-year retrospective study.
Setting 5 STI clinics in the eastern part of the Netherlands.
Participants MSM whose mean test interval was 6 months or more were grouped as ‘infrequently tested’ (n=953), and those with a mean test interval less than 6 months were grouped as ‘frequently tested’ (n=658).
Primary and secondary outcome measures Test frequency and STI diagnosis and determinants.
Results MSM who were ever diagnosed with an STI (OR=1.4, 95% CI 1.1 to 1.7), MSM who had never had STI symptoms (OR=0.8, 95% CI 0.6 to 1.0), and MSM who had ever had sex with both men and women (OR=0.6, 95% CI 0.5 to 0.8) were more often frequently tested. Moreover, in both groups, MSM who had ever been notified by a partner (OR=2.2, 95% CI 1.7 to 2.9 infrequently tested; OR=2.0, 95% CI 1.4 to 2.9 frequently tested), MSM who had ever had STI symptoms (OR=1.6, 95% CI 1.2 to 2.1 infrequently tested; OR=1.8, 95% CI 1.3 to 2.6 frequently tested) and MSM who were ever diagnosed with HIV (OR=2.7, 95% CI 1.5 to 4.6 infrequently tested; OR=6.8, 95% CI 2.6 to 17.5 frequently tested) were more likely to be diagnosed with an STI.
Conclusions Among MSM visiting STI clinics, those who were ever diagnosed with HIV were more often diagnosed with an STI, but did not visit STI clinics more frequently than HIV-negative MSM. This highlights the necessity of encouraging MSM who are diagnosed with HIV to have STI tests more frequently.
- public health
- sexual medicine
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Contributors CJGK contributed to statistical analysis, drafted the article and processed comments made by the other authors. JCMH discussed the methodological issues, gave advice about the statistics and made corrections to the article. PHMK-K drafted the research protocol, collected the data and assisted with the literature search. FDHK contributed to statistical analysis and commented on the article. MV discussed the methodological issues, gave advice about statistics and made corrections to the article. JLAH commented on the research protocol, helped with the data analysis and commented on the article. All authors gave their final approval of the final version of the original article to be published.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Not required.
Ethics approval Ethical approval for the study was not necessary in Dutch law because the study used routinely collected surveillance data that were anonymous.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement There are no additional unpublished data from the study available.
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