Why we need pre-exposure prophylaxis: incident HIV and syphilis among men, and transgender women, who have sex with men, Bangkok, Thailand, 2005–2015

T. H. Holtz, W. Wimonsate, P. A. Mock, S. Pattanasin, W. Chonwattana, W. Thienkrua, W. Sukwicha, M. E. Curlin, A. Chitwarakorn, E. F. Dunne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


We describe incident human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and syphilis trends in men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women (TGW) presenting for HIV voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) services and sexually transmitted infection (STI) management at the Silom Community Clinic, Bangkok, Thailand. Clients underwent rapid HIV testing and syphilis rapid plasma reagin (RPR) testing. For incidence analysis, we included clients with >1 follow-up visit. Initial negative HIV with subsequent positive HIV defined incident HIV infection; incident syphilis infection was defined as negative RPR followed by positive RPR (titer ≥1:8) and confirmatory anti-Treponema pallidum antibodies. Calculation of incidence using Poisson regression assumed a uniform probability distribution throughout the seroconversion interval. From 15 September 2005 to 31 December 2015, we tested 10,158 clients for HIV and 10,324 for syphilis. Overall, 7109 clients tested HIV-seronegative and contributed 7157 person-years (PY). Three-hundred forty-seven incident HIV infections resulted in an incidence rate of 4.8 per 100 PY (95% confidence interval [CI] 4.4–5.4). We found an inverted U-shape trend of HIV incidence over time with a peak of 6.4 per 100 PY in quarter 2/2011 (p < 0.01) (Poisson with RCS function, p = 0.001). Overall, 8713 clients tested seronegative for syphilis and contributed 8623 PY. The incidence of syphilis infection was 4.4 per 100 PY (95% CI 3.9–4.8). Despite an apparent decline in HIV incidence among MSM and TGW attending VCT services, syphilis incidence rose and remained high. Evaluating temporal trends of HIV and syphilis incidence provides an opportunity to evaluate epidemic trajectories and target limited program funding. We recommend focused HIV and STI prevention interventions for MSM in Bangkok.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)430-439
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of STD and AIDS
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • HIV
  • Men who have sex with men
  • epidemiology
  • syphilis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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