A cross-sectional survey on attitudes of men who have sex with men towards anal self-examination for detection of anal syphilis

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Studies suggest men who have sex with men (MSM) practising receptive anal sex are more likely to present with secondary syphilis, implying primary anorectal lesions are likely to be missed. If men could detect anorectal lesions in the primary stage by regular anal self-examination (ASE), transmission could be reduced by early diagnosis and treatment. We aimed to explore the attitudes of MSM on performing ASE to detect primary anorectal syphilis. An online anonymous cross-sectional survey among MSM over 18 years of age living in Australia, was conducted between July and November 2020 and recruitment was from a sexual health clinic and social media. A total of 568 MSM completed the survey (median age: 34 [IQR 27–45]): 32% (183) had previously performed ASE. Among 66% (374) who had never performed ASE, 68% (250) would consider performing ASE in the future with a preferred median frequency of 2 times per 4 weeks (IQR 1–4), whilst men who were already performing ASE were performing it at median 1 per 4 weeks (IQR 0.2–3). Almost two-thirds of MSM who had never performed ASE were willing to adopt ASE practice in the future. Studies are required to determine the effectiveness of ASE for syphilis detection.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8962
Number of pages8
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

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