Prior Sexually Transmitted Infection and Human Immunodeficiency Virus Risk Perception in a Diverse At-Risk Population of Men Who Have Sex with Men and Transgender Individuals

Abstract [from journal]

Prior sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are associated with higher rates of subsequent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, but the influence of prior STIs on perceived vulnerability to HIV remains unclear. We aimed to assess this relationship, hypothesizing that a prior STI diagnosis is associated with higher self-assessed vulnerability to HIV. We performed a cross-sectional study of men and transgender individuals who have sex with men screening for HIV prevention trials in Philadelphia. An unadjusted regression analysis found no significant association between prior STI and HIV risk perception (p = 0.71) or HIV anxiety (p = 0.32). Multivariate logistic regression models that controlled for predetermined potential cofounders known to impact HIV risk-such as condom use, preexposure prophylaxis use, and demographics-also failed to show statistically significant associations between prior STI and HIV risk perception (p = 0.87) or HIV anxiety (p = 0.10). Furthermore, there was no effect modification by HIV preventive behaviors on the relationship between prior STI and HIV vulnerability. These data suggest that a gap exists between how clinicians may attribute individual HIV risk and how individuals view their own vulnerability at a given moment in time. Future research should focus on the dynamic relationship between perceived HIV vulnerability, STI diagnosis, and adoption of preventive behavior to determine better, individualized targets for HIV prevention interventions.