Men who have sex with men (MSM) have become a high-risk group of HIV infection in China. To date, little is known regarding the behavioral, social and psychological characteristics in Chinese MSM, which makes the implementation of preventive and therapeutic strategies for this high-risk subpopulation of people extremely difficult.
A total of 714 questionnaires were retrieved from the database of a Chinese government-sponsored National Key Research Project titled "Risk Analysis and Strategic Prevention of HIV Transmission from MSM to the General Population in China". The respondents were categorized into a high-risk group and a control group. Their behavioral, social and psychological characteristics were comparatively analyzed.
Of the 714 MSM analyzed, 59 (8.26%) had high-risk homosexual behaviors. This sub-group of MSM had a higher in-marriage rate, a higher monthly income, heavier alcohol consumption and more serious problems with sexual abuse in childhood, intentional suicide attempts and mistaken assumption on condom's role in protecting HIV infection, as compared with the control group (P < 0.05). In contrast, the two groups did not differ significantly the sexual orientation, level of education, types of profession, drug use, condom use and experience of social stigma and discrimination (P > 0.05). A vast majority of the individuals in both behavior categories expressed support of legally protected gay clubs as well as gay marriage legislation in China. There was a strong correlation between high-risk behaviors and sexual abuse in childhood, alcohol drinking, income level and a mistaken belief in perfect HIV protection through the use of condoms.
MSM with and without high-risk homosexual behaviors have different social and psychological characteristics, which should be taken into account when implementing behavioral and therapeutic interventions aimed at preventing HIV/AIDS transmission among MSM as well as from MSM to the general population in China.
Keywords: MSM, HIV infection, Sexual risk behavior, Psychological characteristics, China