Toronto Metropolitan University
2022_Pre-exposure prophylaxis and bacterial sexually transmitted infections.pdf (333.08 kB)

Pre-exposure prophylaxis and bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among gay and bisexual men

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-04-04, 16:39 authored by Trevor HartTrevor Hart, Syed W. Noor, Graham W. Berlin, Shayna Skakoon-Sparling, Farideh Tavangar, Darrell Tan, Gilles Lambert, Daniel Grace, Nathan J. Lachowsky, Jody Jollimore, Jordan M. Sang, Abbie Parlette, Allan Lal, Herak Apelian, David Moore, Joseph Cox, the Engage Study Team

Objectives: While pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) prevents HIV acquisition among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBM), PrEP-using GBM may be more likely to engage in sexual behaviours associated with bacterial STIs. We examined associations between PrEP use, condomless anal sex (CAS), number of anal sex partners, oral sex and bacterial STI diagnoses among GBM living in Canada's three largest cities.

Methods: Among HIV-negative/unknown-status GBM in the baseline of the Engage cohort study, we fit a structural equation model of the associations between any PrEP use, sexual behaviours and bacterial STI diagnosis. We estimated direct and indirect paths between PrEP use and STI via CAS, number of anal sex partners and oral sex.

Results: The sample included 2007 HIV-negative/unknown status GBM in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. There was a significant direct association between PrEP use and current STI diagnosis (β=0.181; 95% CI: 0.112 to 0.247; p<0.001), CAS (β=0.275; 95% CI: 0.189 to 0.361; p<0.001) and number of anal sex partners (β=0.193; 95% CI: 0.161 to 0.225; p<0.001). In the mediated model, the direct association between PrEP use and STIs was non-significant. However, the indirect paths from PrEP to CAS to STIs (β=0.064; 95% CI: 0.025 to 0.120; p=0.008), and from PrEP to greater number of anal sex partners to CAS to STIs were significant (β=0.059; 95% CI: 0.024 to 0.108; p=0.007).

Conclusions: Our study adds to the growing awareness that PrEP use among GBM may be associated with bacterial STIs because PrEP users have more anal sex partners and are more likely to engage in CAS. The results underscore the importance of providing effective STI counselling and regular testing to PrEP users, adapting PrEP care and related STI testing to individual needs, and the need for effective prevention strategies for bacterial STIs.