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An urgent need for HIV testing among men who have sex with men and transgender women in Bamako, Mali: Low awareness of HIV infection and viral suppression among those living with HIV

Hakim, Avi J.; Coy, Kelsey; Patnaik, Padmaja; Telly, Nouhoum; Ballo, Tako; Traore, Bouyagui; Doumbia, Seydou; Lahuerta, Maria

Despite the high HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women (TGW), there are limited data on progress on their respective HIV antiretroviral treatment (ART) cascades to identify progress and gaps in meeting UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets. We conducted a respondent-driven sampling survey of MSM and TGW in Bamako, Mali from October 2014 to February 2015. We describe the HIV treatment cascade for MSM and TGW, identify correlates of being unaware of HIV-infected status and having unsuppressed viral load levels, and estimate proportion of recent infections. We enrolled 387 MSM and 165 TGW. HIV prevalence was 13.7%. Of those living with HIV, 10.4% were aware of their serostatus, 61.2% of them self-reported being on treatment, and of them, 100% were virally suppressed. In multivariate analysis, factors associated with being unaware of HIV infection included not using free condoms in the last six months (aOR: 5.7, 95% CI: 1.1–29.5) and not having comprehensive knowledge of HIV (aOR: 6.5, 95% CI: 1.4–29.9). Having unsuppressed viral load was associated with identifying as a transgender woman (aOR: 4.8, 95% CI: 1.1–20.7) and not having comprehensive knowledge of HIV (aOR: 6.5, 95% CI: 1.0–40.9). Of the 79 HIV-positive participants, 5.1% had recent infections. While the proportion aware of their HIV status was low despite adjusting for viral load biomarkers, all MSM and TGW on treatment were virally suppressed. Improved testing strategies are urgently needed to achieve the first 90 of the HIV cascade among MSM and TGW in Bamako.

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International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs
Published Here
February 28, 2019
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