Objective: To assess risk factors associated with HIV prevalence and incidence among gay and bisexual men in two prospective Canadian cohorts.
Methods: The Vanguard Project and the Omega Cohort are prospective cohort studies of gay and bisexual men ongoing in Vancouver and Montreal, respectively. For this analysis, baseline sociodemographic characteristics, sexual behavior, and substance use data from these two cohorts were combined. Assessment of risk factors for HIV seroprevalence and seroconversion were carried out using univariate and multivariate analysis.
Results: This analysis was based on 1373 gay and bisexual men aged 16 to 30 years. Men who were HIV-seropositive at baseline (n = 48) were more likely to report living in unstable housing, to have had less than a high school education, and to have been unemployed than those who were HIV-negative (n = 1325). HIV-positive men were also more likely to report having engaged in sexual risk behavior, including having had consensual sex at a younger age, having had at least 6 partners during the previous year, ever having been involved in the sex trade, and having engaged in unprotected receptive anal intercourse. With respect to substance use, HIV-positive men were more likely to report the use of crack, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana and to use injection drugs. Similarly, men who seroconverted during the course of the studies (n = 26) were more likely to report having less than a high school education and having lived in unstable housing at baseline. Compared with HIV-negative men, men who seroconverted were more likely to report ever having been involved in the sex trade and engaging in unprotected receptive anal intercourse. Reports of cocaine use and injection drug use were also significantly higher for men who seroconverted compared with HIV-negative men.
Conclusions: Our data indicate that HIV-positive gay and bisexual men are more likely to be living in unstable conditions and to report more risky sexual and substance use behaviors than HIV-negative men.