Journal Article

High prevalence of HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhoea among men who have sex with men and transgender women attending trusted community centres in Abuja and Lagos, Nigeria

Sexually transmitted infection (STI) and HIV prevalence have been reported to be higher amongst men who have sex with men (MSM) in Nigeria than in the general population. The objective of this study was to characterize the prevalence of HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhoea in this population using laboratory-based universal testing.

TRUST/RV368 represents a cohort of MSM and transgender women (TGW) recruited at trusted community centres in Abuja and Lagos, Nigeria, using respondent-driven sampling (RDS). Participants undergo a structured comprehensive assessment of HIV-related risks and screening for anorectal and urogenital Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and HIV. Crude and RDS-weighted prevalence estimates with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated. Log-binomial regression was used to explore factors associated with prevalent HIV infection and STIs.

From March 2013 to January 2016, 862 MSM and TGW (316 in Lagos and 546 in Abuja) underwent screening for HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhoea at study enrolment. Participants’ median age was 24 years [interquartile range (IQR) 21–27]. One-third (34.2%) were identified as gay/homosexual and 65.2% as bisexual. The overall prevalence of HIV was 54.9%. After adjusting for the RDS recruitment method, HIV prevalence in Abuja was 43.5% (95% CI 37.3–49.6%) and in Lagos was 65.6% (95% CI 54.7–76.5%). The RDS-weighted prevalence of chlamydia was 17.0% (95% CI 11.8–22.3%) in Abuja and 18.3% (95% CI 11.1–25.4%) in Lagos. Chlamydia infection was detected only at the anorectal site in 70.2% of cases. The RDS-weighted prevalence of gonorrhoea was 19.1% (95% CI 14.6–23.5%) in Abuja and 25.8% (95% CI 17.1–34.6%) in Lagos. Overall, 84.2% of gonorrhoea cases presented with anorectal infection only. Over 95% of STI cases were asymptomatic. In a multivariable model, increased risk for chlamydia/gonorrhoea was associated with younger age, gay/homosexual sexual orientation and higher number of partners for receptive anal sex. HIV infection was associated with older age, female gender identity and number of partners for receptive anal sex.

There is a high burden of infection with HIV and asymptomatic chlamydia and gonorrhoea among MSM and TGW in Nigeria. Most cases would have been missed without anorectal screening. Interventions are needed to target this population for appropriate STI screening and management beginning at a young age.