Acceptability and feasibility of venue-based sexual behaviour and HIV prevalence surveys amongst
MSM in Caracas
K. Whalley1, F. Reyna-Ganteaume2, M. Gutiérrez2, G. Hart3, A. Johnson3, A. Grant1, A. Arenas-Pinto3,4
1London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom, 2Accion Solidaria, Caracas, Venezuela, 3University College London, London, United Kingdom, 4Universidad Central de Venezuela, Caracas, Venezuela
Background: Men who have sex with
men (MSM) represent an epidemiologically crucial group at high risk of HIV
infection in most Latin American countries, yet in Venezuela HIV prevalence and
sexual risk behaviours amongst MSM have been unreported for nearly fifteen years.
This exploratory study assesses the feasibility and acceptability of generating
such data via venue-based surveys in Caracas.
anonymous self-completion sexual behaviour questionnaire was developed (including questions on survey acceptability). Thirty social places in Caracas where MSM
congregate were identified. Investigators' personal security was a serious
concern and the major factor influencing selection of venues to be visited. Men attending six bars, one commercial
shopping centre and one organisational meeting were invited to complete the
Results: Of 141 men approached, 115 MSM (82%) participated. Almost all men
self-identified as gay (83%) or bisexual (16%) and 84% visited gay venues at
least monthly. 88% reported anal intercourse with men, with a median of 2 male
sexual partners in the past year (interquartile range 1- 5). Seventy-five men
(66%) reported HIV testing within the past year. Eleven men (10%) believed
themselves to be HIV positive yet only six (6%) reported a previous positive
test. Completing the questionnaire, 65% felt “very comfortable”, 75%
found it “very easy” to understand and only 4% considered the venue
“inadequate”. 82% of men reported that they would, or
probably would, accept anonymous oral HIV testing for research purposes.
Conclusions: These data suggest sexual
behaviour questionnaire surveys may be feasible and largely acceptable amongst
MSM within gay venues in Caracas; these men also seem willing to participate in
HIV prevalence surveys. Although convenience sampling due to security concerns
clearly restricts the representativeness of this and future surveys, data are
urgently required. Further research should address the practical planning of sexual
behaviour and HIV prevalence surveys in this context.
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