Transactional Sex and Incident Chlamydia and Gonorrhea among Black Men Who Have Sex with Men in Atlanta, Georgia

Katherine B. Rucinski, Lisa A. Eaton, Emily R. Learner, Ryan J. Watson, Jessica L. Maksut, Valerie A. Earnshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background Black men who have sex with men (BMSM) are disproportionately affected by sexually transmitted infections (STI), including chlamydia and gonorrhea. Transactional sex is an hypothesized risk factor for STI acquisition in BMSM. Methods We estimated the association of transactional sex with incident chlamydia/gonococcal infection among BMSM using longitudinal data from a randomized trial in Atlanta (2012-2015). BMSM were eligible for inclusion if they tested human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-antibody-negative and reported both ≥2 male sex partners and any condomless anal sex in the last year. We defined chlamydia/gonorrhea incidence as the first occurrence of either rectal or urogenital chlamydia or gonococcal infections after a negative result at enrollment. We used Poisson regression to estimate the incidence rate (IR) for chlamydia/gonorrhea over 12 months. Incidence rate ratios (IRR) compared estimates by reported experience of transactional sex. Subgroup analyses assessed potential heterogeneity by age and sexual identity. Results This analysis included 416 BMSM, of whom 191 (46%) were gay-identified, 146 (42%) reported a history of transactional sex, and 57 (14%) had prevalent chlamydia/gonococcal infection at baseline. Over a median of 1 year of follow-up, an additional 55 men tested laboratory-positive for chlamydia/gonorrhea (IR, 17.3 per 100 person-years). Transactional sex was not associated with chlamydia/gonorrhea incidence overall. However, among gay-identified BMSM, transactional sex was associated with incident chlamydia/gonorrhea (IRR, 2.9; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-6.8). Conclusions Economic and social vulnerabilities may motivate engagement in high-risk sexual behaviors through commodified sex, potentially increasing the burden of STIs among BMSM. In this investigation, the relationship between transactional sex and chlamydia/gonorrhea was not homogenous across BMSM with diverse sexual identities in Atlanta, suggesting that within select sexual networks, transactional sex may drive STI risks. Delivering accessible and targeted STI screening for marginalized BMSM should be prioritized for STI and HIV prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-360
Number of pages6
JournalSexually transmitted diseases
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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