Background: In The Netherlands, the western part, including Rotterdam and Amsterdam harbors the majority of the known HIV-infected population, of whom men who have sex with men (MSM) comprise the largest transmission category. Given a general rise in sexually transmitted infections (STI) and risky sexual behavior, we examine the HIV incidence among MSM in the Netherlands with data from three different sources.
Methods: To describe the HIV epidemic among MSM we use: a prospective cohort study in Rotterdam (ROHOCO: 1998-2003, n = 265) and another in Amsterdam (ACS: 1984-2005, n = 1498]) plus an anonymous HIV surveillance study (Amsterdam STI clinic: 1991-2004, n = 3733) in which HIV-positive MSM were tested with a less-sensitive HIV assay. We evaluated calendar trends in HIV incidence, also focusing on age effects.
Results: Since the start of the HIV epidemic in the early 1980s, incidence has declined strongly in the ACS. In recent years, an increase was noted among older MSM attending the Amsterdam STI clinic (P = 0.0334). In both cohort studies, HIV incidence was lower and recent time-trends were not statistically significant. Among recently infected men at the STI clinic, only 40% accepted named HIV testing at their STI consultation.
Conclusions: Data suggest that among MSM in the Netherlands, the HIV incidence is between one and four infections per 100 person-years. The epidemic expands among older STI clinic attendees. Prevention should be developed specifically for older men, along with a more efficient HIV testing approach such as routine HIV testing of MSM when they are screened for STI.