Prevalence of sexually transmitted infections and enteric protozoa among homosexual men in western Sicily (south Italy)


Introduction. In recent years an increase in the number of sexu- ally transmitted infections (STIs) in men who have sex with men (MSM) has been reported in different industrialised countries. Because few epidemiological data on the STIs/MSM population in Sicily are available, a survey was conducted to assess the preva- lence of STIs/enteric protozoa and risky sexual behaviours among MSM in western Sicily. Methods. In 2010, 74 MSM with median age of 30 years old, were recruited via networks. All participants to the study were interviewed by anonymous self-administered questionnaire in order to collect social/demographic information, clinic data and STI-related risky sexual behaviours. After completing the ques- tionnaire, blood samples were collected to determine HIV, HCV, HHV8 and Treponema pallidum antibodies; presence of Giardia duodenalis and Cryptosporidium parvum was also investigated in faecal samples by immunofluorescence assay. Results. HIV, HHV8, T. pallidum and Giardia prevalence were 8.1%, 16.2%, 21.6% and 16.4% respectively; all patients were negative for HCV and Cryptosporidium infections. The median values of sexual anal intercourse and oral sex per week were 2 and 1, respectively. 7% of participants always had unprotected anal sex, 50.7% sometimes used condom during sexual anal inter- course and 42.3% always had protected anal sex. All MSM-HIV+ and 7 (43.7%) syphilis seropositives were unaware of their own infection. Discussion. MSM in western Sicily are a high risk group for important STIs. It seems necessary that continuous interventions for preventing HIV/AIDS and other STIs and for improving the level of knowledge of symptoms are needed.