The last Canadian biobehavioural surveillance study of HIV and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBI) among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBM) was conducted in 2010. We designed a study to measure STBBI prevalence among GBM in metropolitan Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver and to document related preventive and risk behaviours.
The Engage Cohort Study used respondent-driven sampling (RDS) to recruit GBM who reported sex with another man in the past 6 months. At baseline, we examined recruitment characteristics of the samples, and the RDS-II-adjusted distributions of socio-demographics, laboratory-confirmed HIV and other STBBI prevalence, and related behaviours, with a focus on univariate differences among cities.
A total of 2449 GBM were recruited from February 2017 to August 2019. HIV prevalence was lower in Montreal (14.2%) than in Toronto (22.2%) or Vancouver (20.4%). History of syphilis infection was similar across cities (14–16%). Vancouver had more HIV-negative/unknown participants who reported never being HIV tested (18.6%) than Toronto (12.9%) or Montreal (11.5%). Both Montreal (74.9%) and Vancouver (78.8%) had higher proportions of men who tested for another STBBI in the past 6 months than Toronto (67.4%). Vancouver had a higher proportion of men who used pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in the past 6 months (18.9%) than Toronto (11.1%) or Montreal (9.6%).
The three largest cities of Canada differed in HIV prevalence, STBBI testing and PrEP use among GBM. Our findings also suggest the need for scale-up of both PrEP and STI testing among GBM in Canada.