HIV prevalence and undiagnosed infection among a community sample of gay and bisexual men in Scotland, 2005-2011: implications for HIV testing policy and prevention

PLoS One. 2014 Mar 12;9(3):e90805. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0090805. eCollection 2014.


Objective: To examine HIV prevalence, HIV testing behaviour, undiagnosed infection and risk factors for HIV positivity among a community sample of gay men in Scotland.

Methods: Cross-sectional survey of gay and bisexual men attending commercial gay venues in Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland with voluntary anonymous HIV testing of oral fluid samples in 2011. A response rate of 65.2% was achieved (1515 participants).

Results: HIV prevalence (4.8%, 95% confidence interval, CI 3.8% to 6.2%) remained stable compared to previous survey years (2005 and 2008) and the proportion of undiagnosed infection among HIV-positive men (25.4%) remained similar to that recorded in 2008. Half of the participants who provided an oral fluid sample stated that they had had an HIV test in the previous 12 months; this proportion is significantly higher when compared to previous study years (50.7% versus 33.8% in 2005, p<0.001). Older age (>25 years) was associated with HIV positivity (1.8% in those <25 versus 6.4% in older ages group) as was a sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnosis within the previous 12 months (adjusted odds ratio 2.13, 95% CI 1.09-4.14). There was no significant association between age and having an STI or age and any of the sexual behaviours recorded.

Conclusion: HIV transmission continues to occur among gay and bisexual men in Scotland. Despite evidence of recent testing within the previous six months, suggesting a willingness to test, the current opt-out policy may have reached its limit with regards to maximising HIV test uptake. Novel strategies are required to improve regular testing opportunities and more frequent testing as there are implications for the use of other biomedical HIV interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bisexuality*
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Health Policy*
  • Homosexuality, Male*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Scotland / epidemiology
  • Young Adult