Background: Partner notification (PN) among MSM/TW diagnosed with HIV/STI is a key strategy for controlling HIV/STI transmission. Anonymous partnerships are an important barrier to PN and associated with sexual risk behavior. Limited research has examined the profile of MSM/TW who engage in anonymous sex.
Methods: HIV/STI-infected MSM/TW, diagnosed within the past month, participated in a cross-sectional survey assessing anticipated PN. Participants reported recent sexual partner types and characteristics of up to 3 recent partners. A multivariable generalized estimating equation (GEE) model was used to assess participant- and partnership-level characteristics associated with anonymous partnerships as compared to MSM/TW not reporting anonymous partners.
Results: Among 395 participants, 36.0% (n=142) reported sex with an anonymous partner in the last three months. These participants reported a mean of 8.6 anonymous partners (SD 17.0). 21% of individuals reported an anonymous partner as one of their last three partnerships, of whom 10% of participants were TW and 90% MSM. MSM/TW reporting anonymous partners had a mean age of 31.8 (SD=8.1) and 55.6% had a high school degree. The majority of participants reported sexual role versatility; 66.3% versatile ‘moderno’, 21.7% bottom ‘pasivo’ and 12.1% top ‘activo’. Distribution of HIV/STI diagnoses was: 58.8% STI only, 15.0% HIV only and 26.3% HIV/STI co-infection. In a multivariable model, significant factors associated with an anonymous partner included: participant age (AOR: 1.05, CI:1.05-10.09), education (AOR:1.20, CI: 1.15-4.21), gay identity (AOR:0.16, CI: 0.03-0.88), or “moderno’ role (AOR:11.98, CI:3.07-46.63); and partner gender: female (AOR: 3.54, CI:1.34-9.36) or TW (AOR: 4.78, CI:1.06-21.50). Participants were less likely to indicate that they planned to disclose their HIV/STI to anonymous partners than non-anonymous partners (AOR 0.41, CI:0.22-0.76).
Conclusions: Newly HIV/STI-infected MSM/TW with anonymous sex partners present an important challenge for partner notification. Partner notification interventions need to develop targeted strategies for Latin American MSM/TW who engage in anonymous partnerships.