Background: Epicentro is the only gay men’s community health center in Lima, Peru designed specifically for men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women (TGW). Characteristics of participants who choose to utilize community health centers for health services including HIV and STI testing are underreported.
Methods: Records of participants who attended Epicentro for a medical consultation from the years 2011-2013 were reviewed to produce descriptive characteristics of the population.
Results: 407 participants were included in our review, with several participants not responding to all questions in the 25 question survey. Of the respondents: 59.8% were between the ages of 18-30 years, 57% were employed, and 41% achieved a Superior/University level of education. Nearly half (45%) of patients learned of Epicentro through a friend (word of mouth), and 22% through Facebook. 80.3% reported having sex exclusively with men. Most participants reported a versatile sexual role (55.9%), followed by receptive (20.2%), then insertive (7.1%) roles for anal sex. Nearly 75% reported having an HIV test in the past, 30.9% reporting a positive test result. Over half of subjects (53.1%) were diagnosed with genital or anal warts during their examination.
Conclusions: Based on our review, the demographic most commonly seen at Epicentro is young, employed, well educated, self-identified as gay, and sexually versatile (moderno). The reported previous HIV test result is considerably higher than prevalence estimates from other studies of MSM in Peru. It is also high relative to the prevalence found in a separate sample of participants at Epicentro who visited the site with the intention of getting an HIV test (20.9%). Prevalence of genital warts was high, although this may be due to concurrent enrolment in a clinical study at the site. Community health centers are important to reach a demographic which may not attend traditional health services.