Objectives: This study was designed to gain a deeper understanding of the barriers and facilitators related to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV screening among at-risk Boston men who have sex with men (MSM).
Study Design: The cohort was recruited by a modified respondent-driven sampling technique and used one-on-one semistructured interviews and a quantitative survey to examine participants' understanding of STDs and HIV, perceptions of risk for disease, reasons for getting (or not getting) tested, and experiences with testing.
Results: The study found that although most of the MSM knew the signs and symptoms of HIV, they were less familiar with STDs. MSM were most likely to be screened if they had symptoms or were told by a partner of a recent exposure. However, many barriers to STD/HIV screening among MSM still exist, including lack of awareness of symptoms, misperceptions about the ways STDs are transmitted, and perceived impediments from the healthcare system, including misgivings about provider sensitivity.
Conclusions: To decrease current increases in HIV/STDs among MSM, new strategies that include community and provider education are needed.