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Posted on November 02, 2007


Some MSM are at high risk for HIV infection and other viral and bacterial STDs. The frequency of unsafe sexual practices and the reported rates of bacterial STDs and incident HIV infection have declined substantially in MSM from the 1980s through the mid-1990s. However, during the previous 10 years, increased rates of infectious syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydial infection and of higher rates of unsafe sexual behaviors have been documented among MSM in the United States and virtually all industrialized countries. The effect of these behavioral changes on HIV transmission has not been ascertained, but preliminary data suggest that the incidence of HIV infection might be increasing among some MSM. These adverse trends probably are related to changing attitudes concerning HIV infection because of the effects of improved HIV/AIDS therapy on quality of life and survival, changing patterns of substance abuse, demographic shifts in MSM populations, and changes in sex partner networks resulting from new venues for partner acquisition.


Clinicians should assess the risks of STDs for all male patients, including a routine inquiry about the sex of patients’ sex partners. MSM, including those with HIV infection, should routinely undergo nonjudgmental STD/HIV risk assessment and client-centered prevention counseling to reduce the likelihood of acquiring or transmitting HIV or other STDs. Clinicians should be familiar with local community resources available to assist MSM at high risk in facilitating behavioral change. Clinicians also should routinely ask sexually active MSM about symptoms consistent with common STDs, including urethral discharge, dysuria, genital and perianal ulcers, regional lymphadenopathy, skin rash, and anorectal symptoms consistent with proctitis. Clinicians also should maintain a low threshold for diagnostic testing of symptomatic patients.


Routine laboratory screening for common STDs is indicated for all sexually active MSM. The following screening recommendations are based on preliminary data. These tests should be performed at least annually for sexually active MSM, including men with or without established HIV infection:


  • HIV serology, if HIV negative or not tested within the previous year;
  • syphilis serology;
  • a test for urethral infection with N. gonorrhoeae and C. trachomatis in men who have had insertive intercourse during the preceding year;
  • a test for rectal infection with N. gonorrhoeae and C. trachomatis in men who have had receptive anal intercourse during the preceding year;
  • a test for pharyngeal infection with N. gonorrhoeae in men who have acknowledged participation in receptive oral intercourse during the preceding year; testing for C. trachomatis pharyngeal infection is not recommended.


In addition, some specialists would consider type-specific serologic tests for HSV-2, if infection status is unknown. Routine testing for anal cytologic abnormalities or anal HPV infection is not recommended until more data are available on the reliability of screening methods, the safety of and response to treatment, and programmatic considerations.


More frequent STD screening (i.e., at 3–6 month intervals) is indicated for MSM who have multiple or anonymous partners, have sex in conjunction with illicit drug use, use methamphetamine, or whose sex partners participate in these activities.


* Regardless of history of condom use during exposure.
Providers should use a culture or test that has been cleared by the FDA or locally verified in accordance with applicable statutes.


Vaccination against hepatitis A and B is recommended for all MSM in whom previous infection or immunization cannot be documented. Preimmunization serologic testing might be considered to reduce the cost of vaccinating MSM who are already immune to these infections, but this testing should not be delay vaccination. Vaccinating persons who are immune to HAV or HBV infection because of previous infection or vaccination does not increase the risk for vaccine-related adverse events.

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