Men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women (TW) in Lima, Peru had low levels of HPV knowledge and HPV vaccines, but likely high HPV exposure due to frequency of condomless anal sex, according to a new study of the LGBT population from the University of California, Irvine Program in Public Health.
The manuscript, lead by Ms. Emmi Monsour, Dr. Brandon Brown, and Dr. Jerome Galea, found serious sexual health knowledge gaps in a cohort of HIV negative MSM and TW in Lima, Peru. This included over 75 percent engaging in condomless anal or oral sex up to six months prior to the study and less than half (48 percent) having heard of HPV Paradoxically, participants with a higher education were more likely to have a current or history of anogenital warts (AGW) and less likely to be knowledgeable about HPV than those with a lower education.
“Stigma and barriers to sexual health likely played a large role in these findings,” said Dr. Brown. “While female sex workers must visit a special clinic to receive their health card, which serves as a license to conduct sex work, no such services are available for men who have sex with men and transgender women. This is only compounded by the difficulty and cost in finding a provider who is both able and willing to treat members of these communities.”
Though the cohort was relatively small (n = 600) and collected via convenience and clinic-based sampling, it still represents novel work for a historically underserved and understudied community. In short, the study highlights the need for both culturally competent education campaigns specifically targeting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and additional studies on MSM and TW to determine the potential cost-effectiveness of the vaccine in HPV-exposed populations.