Background: In the United States, the incidence of HIV and other STIs among men who have sex with men (MSM) continues to increase. Sex partner meeting places (SPMPs) are key to understanding the sexual transmission and resulting burden of HIV/STIs among MSM. Certain venues may present opportunities for targeted prevention and control activities (e.g., outreach testing). To inform prioritization of HIV/STI programs targeting MSM, the objective of this study was to identify stable and newly emerging SPMPs frequented by MSM in Baltimore, Maryland.
Methods: We used HIV surveillance data from newly diagnosed MSM interviewed by the Baltimore City Health Department during May 2009-April 2013 to explore annual distributions of SPMPs. Focusing on SPMP typologies most relevant to MSM, we reviewed reports of Internet-based sites (e.g., websites, phone apps) and local bars and clubs to capture high-frequency meeting places, defined by >3 nominations during the study period. Places with <10% change in the proportion of reports during the study period were considered stable; those nominated for the first time in the past year that met the high-frequency criteria were categorized as newly emerging.
Results: Among 434 newly diagnosed MSM, 234 (54%) provided information on at least one SPMP, accounting for 27 unique Internet-based sites and 33 distinct bars or clubs. Six (22%) of the 27 Internet-based sites and 7 (21%) of the 33 local bars and clubs were identified as high-frequency SPMPs. Among the six high-frequency Internet-based sites, three were stable over time and one emerged as a new site. Five of six high-frequency bars demonstrated stability over time.
Conclusions: We identified high-frequency, stable sex partner meeting places of HIV-infected MSM in Baltimore City. These places, including Internet-based sites and physical venues, may be important for targeted HIV control among a high incidence population.