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In India men who have sex with men (MSM) are stigmatized, understudied, and at high risk for HIV. Understanding the impact of psychosocial issues on HIV risk behavior and HIV infection can help shape culturally relevant HIV prevention interventions. Peer outreach workers recruited 210 MSM in Chennai who completed an interviewer-administered psychosocial assessment battery and underwent HIV testing and counseling. More than one fifth (46/210) reported unprotected anal intercourse in the past 3 months, 8% tested positive for HIV, and 26% had previously participated in an HIV prevention intervention. In a multivariable logistic-regression model controlling for age, MSM subpopulation (kothi, panthi, or double-decker), marital status, and religion, significant predictors of any unprotected anal intercourse were being less educated (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = .54; p = .009), not having previously participated in an HIV prevention program (AOR = 3.75; p = .05), having clinically significant depression symptoms (AOR = 2.8; p = .02), and lower self-efficacy (AOR = .40; p < .0001). Significant predictors of testing positive for HIV infection were: being less educated (AOR = .53; .05) and not currently living with parent(s) (AOR = 3.71; p = .05). Given the prevalence of HIV among MSM, efforts to reach hidden subpopulations of MSM in India are still needed. Such programs for MSM in India may need to address culturally-relevant commonly co-occurring psychosocial problems to maximize chances of reducing risk for infection.
PMCID: PMC3623672  PMID: 19670971
2.  A call to action for comprehensive HIV services for men who have sex with men 
Lancet  2012;380(9839):424-438.
Where surveillance has been done, it has shown that men (MSM) who have sex with men bear a disproportionate burden of HIV. Yet they continue to be excluded, sometimes systematically, from HIV services because of stigma, discrimination, and criminalisation. This situation must change if global control of the HIV epidemic is to be achieved. On both public health and human rights grounds, expansion of HIV prevention, treatment, and care to MSM is an urgent imperative. Effective combination prevention and treatment approaches are feasible, and culturally competent care can be developed, even in rights-challenged environments. Condom and lubricant access for MSM globally is highly cost effective. Antiretroviral-based prevention, and antiretroviral access for MSM globally, would also be cost effective, but would probably require substantial reductions in drug costs in high-income countries to be feasible. To address HIV in MSM will take continued research, political will, structural reform, community engagement, and strategic planning and programming, but it can and must be done.
PMCID: PMC3805059  PMID: 22819663
3.  Psychosocial Health Problems Associated with Increased HIV Risk Behavior among Men Who Have Sex with Men in Nepal: A Cross-Sectional Survey 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58099.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) are marginalized, hidden, underserved and at high risk for HIV in Nepal. We examined the association between MSM sub-populations, psychosocial health problems and support, access to prevention and non-use of condoms.
Between September-November of 2010, a cross-sectional survey on HIV-related risk behavior was performed across Nepal through snowball sampling facilitated by non-governmental organizations, recruiting 339 MSM, age 15 or older. The primary outcomes were: (a) non-use of condoms at least once in last three anal sex encounters with men and (b) non-use of condoms with women in the last encounter. The secondary outcome was participation in HIV prevention interventions in the past year.
Among the 339 MSM interviewed, 78% did not use condoms at their last anal sex with another man, 35% did not use condoms in their last sex with a woman, 70% had experienced violence in the last 12 months, 61% were experiencing depression and 47% had thought of committing suicide. After adjustment for age, religion, marital status, and MSM subpopulations (bisexual, ta, meti, gay), non-use of condoms at last anal sex with a man was significantly associated with non-participation in HIV interventions, experience of physical and sexual violence, depression, repeated suicidal thoughts, small social support network and being dissatisfied with social support. Depression was marginally associated with non-use of condoms with women. The findings suggest that among MSM who reported non-use of condoms at last anal sex, the ta subgroup and those lacking family acceptance were the least likely to have participated in any preventive interventions.
MSM in Nepal have a prevalence of psychosocial health problems in turn associated with high risk behavior for HIV. Future HIV prevention efforts targeting MSM in Nepal should cover all MSM subpopulations and prioritize psychosocial health interventions.
PMCID: PMC3596342  PMID: 23516434
4.  Mental Health and HIV Risk in Men Who Have Sex with Men 
Evidence-based HIV prevention interventions with men who have sex with men (MSM) in the United States have moderate effect sizes in reducing HIV sexual risk behavior. Mental health and psychosocial problems, which both disproportionately affect MSM populations and are implicated in HIV transmission risk behaviors, also likely interfere with the uptake of HIV behavioral interventions. Moreover, given that mental health and psychosocial problems such as depression, substance use, and violence frequently co-occur for many MSM (eg, as “syndemic conditions”), what is probably needed are combination prevention efforts, or prevention “cocktails,” similar to treatment “cocktails,” that address the psychological and behavioral mechanisms that interact to produce elevated risk for HIV. Such interventions should incorporate a holistic framework to address the sexual health and overall well-being of MSM. Addressing co-occurring psychosocial risk factors is apt to improve effect sizes of current HIV prevention interventions and allow for more effective uptake by MSM.
PMCID: PMC3074520  PMID: 21406991
5.  Project Enhance: A Randomized Controlled Trial of an Individualized HIV Prevention Intervention for HIV-Infected Men Who Have Sex With Men Conducted in a Primary Care Setting 
Men who have sex with men (MSM) are the largest group of individuals in the U.S. living with HIV and have the greatest number of new infections. This study was designed to test a brief, culturally relevant prevention intervention for HIV-infected MSM, which could be integrated into HIV care.
HIV-infected MSM who received HIV care in a community health center (N = 201), and who reported HIV sexual transmission-risk behavior (TRB) in the prior 6 months, were randomized to receive the intervention or treatment as usual. The intervention, provided by a medical social worker, included proactive case management for psychosocial problems, counseling about living with HIV, and HIV TRB risk reduction. Participants were followed every 3 months for one year.
Participants, regardless of study condition, reported reductions in HIV TRB, with no significant differential effect by condition in primary intent-to-treat analyses. When examining moderators, the intervention was differentially effective in reducing HIV TRB for those who screened in for baseline depression, but this was not the case for those who did not screen in for depression.
The similar level of reduction in HIV TRB in the intervention and control groups, consistent with other recent secondary prevention interventions, speaks to the need for new, creative designs, or more potent interventions in secondary HIV prevention trials, as the control group seemed to benefit from risk assessment, study contact, and referrals provided by study staff. The differential finding for those with depression may suggest that those without depression could reap benefits from limited interventions, but those with a comorbid psychiatric diagnosis may require additional interventions to modify their sexual risk behaviors.
PMCID: PMC3651590  PMID: 22746262
MSM; HIV prevention; AIDS/HIV; high-risk sexual behavior; depression
6.  Experiences of Kenyan healthcare workers providing services to men who have sex with men: qualitative findings from a sensitivity training programme 
Journal of the International AIDS Society  2013;16(4Suppl 3):18741.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) in Kenya are at high risk for HIV and may experience prejudiced treatment in health settings due to stigma. An on-line computer-facilitated MSM sensitivity programme was conducted to educate healthcare workers (HCWs) about the health issues and needs of MSM patients.
Seventy-four HCWs from 49 ART-providing health facilities in the Kenyan Coast were recruited through purposive sampling to undergo a two-day MSM sensitivity training. We conducted eight focus group discussions (FGDs) with programme participants prior to and three months after completing the training programme. Discussions aimed to characterize HCWs’ challenges in serving MSM patients and impacts of programme participation on HCWs’ personal attitudes and professional capacities.
Before participating in the training programme, HCWs described secondary stigma, lack of professional education about MSM, and personal and social prejudices as barriers to serving MSM clients. After completing the programme, HCWs expressed greater acknowledgement of MSM patients in their clinics, endorsed the need to treat MSM patients with high professional standards and demonstrated sophisticated awareness of the social and behavioural risks for HIV among MSM.
Findings provide support for this approach to improving health services for MSM patients. Further efforts are needed to broaden the reach of this training in other areas, address identified barriers to HCW participation and evaluate programme effects on patient and HCW outcomes using rigorous methodology.
PMCID: PMC3852126  PMID: 24321109
on-line computer facilitated MSM sensitivity programme; healthcare worker; stigma; MSM; Kenya; HIV
7.  Men who have sex with men inadequately addressed in African Aids National Strategic Plans 
Global public health  2012;8(2):129-143.
Through an analysis of Aids National Strategic Plans (NSPs), this study investigated the responses of African governments to the HIV epidemics faced by men who have sex with men (MSM).
NSPs from 46 African countries were systematically analysed, paying attention to (1) the representation of MSM and their HIV risk, (2) inclusion of epidemiologic information on the HIV epidemic amongst MSM and (3) government-led interventions addressing MSM. 34 out of 46 NSPs mentioned MSM. While two-thirds of these NSPs acknowledged vulnerability of MSM to HIV infection, fewer than half acknowledged the role of stigma or criminalisation. Four NSPs showed estimated HIV prevalence amongst MSM, and one included incidence.
Two-thirds of the NSPs proposed government-led HIV interventions that address MSM. Those that did plan to intervene planned to do so through policy interventions, social interventions, HIV prevention interventions, HIV treatment interventions, and monitoring activities.
Overall, the governments of the countries included in the study exhibited little knowledge of HIV disease dynamics amongst MSM and little knowledge of the social dynamics behind MSM’s HIV risk. Concerted action is needed to integrate MSM in NSPs and governmental health policies in a way that acknowledges this population and its specific HIV/AIDS related needs.
PMCID: PMC3574221  PMID: 23252398
MSM; HIV; Government Response; NSP; Africa
8.  Sexual Health and Men Who Have Sex with Men in Vietnam: An Integrated Approach to Preventive Health Care 
Background. While HIV infection among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Vietnam has received increasing attention, most studies focus on HIV knowledge and established risk factors such as injection drug use. This paper proposes to address HIV risk among MSM from an integrated approach to preventive care that takes into account syndemic conditions such as substance use, mental health, and stigma, the latter of which prevents MSM from accessing health services. Method. Current studies related to MSM in Vietnam from 2000 onwards, gathered from peer-reviewed as well as non-peer-reviewed sources, were examined. Results. HIV and STI prevalence among MSM varied significantly by location, and yet HIV prevalence has increased significantly over the past few years. Most studies have focused on sexual risk behaviors, paying little attention to the broad spectrum of sexual health, including noninjecting drug use, heavy alcohol consumption, high rates of mental health distress and anxiety, and stigma. Conclusion. Future research and interventions targeting MSM in Vietnam should address their vulnerability to HIV from an integrated approach that pays attention to both sexual health and syndemic conditions.
PMCID: PMC3479935  PMID: 23119171
9.  The characterisation of sexual behaviour in Chinese male university students who have sex with other men: A cross-sectional study 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:250.
The risks for Chinese male university students who have sex with other men (MSM) have not been compared with those for non-MSM students. This information is important for the development of targeted HIV prevention programmes for this population.
Sexually active MSM and non-MSM students were compared for demographic characteristics, sexual behaviour, and related psychosocial variables using bivariate analyses. The data were a subset drawn from a large-scale cross-sectional questionnaire survey of sexually active male students conducted at two universities in a large city in Zhejiang Province, China, in 2003.
Of 1824 sexually active male students, 68 (3.7%) reported having had sex with a man at least once; 33.8% of these 68 men had also had female partners. Compared with non-MSM students, MSM students were 3–6.5 times more likely to have had sexual encounters with casual or commercial sex partners and were three times less likely to have protected sex in the past year or during their lifetime. They were three to five times more likely to have had multiple partners and 15 times more likely to have had a sexually transmitted disease (STD). In addition, the MSM students knew half as much about HIV and had less condom-decision than did non-MSM students and were two times more accepting of commercial sex. However, the MSM students were twice as aware of the risks for HIV infection.
MSM composed 3–4% of the male sexually active university student population studied and was found to be at greater risk than non-MSM students for STD/HIV infection. There is an urgent need for STD/HIV programmes in university health services that take into consideration the sexuality and psychosocial issues of MSM students.
PMCID: PMC2503976  PMID: 18647381
10.  “They are human beings, they are Swazi”: intersecting stigmas and the positive health, dignity and prevention needs of HIV-positive men who have sex with men in Swaziland 
Journal of the International AIDS Society  2013;16(4Suppl 3):18749.
Despite the knowledge that men who have sex with men (MSM) are more likely to be infected with HIV across settings, there has been little investigation of the experiences of MSM who are living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. Using the framework of positive health, dignity and prevention, we explored the experiences and HIV prevention, care and treatment needs of MSM who are living with HIV in Swaziland.
We conducted 40 in-depth interviews with 20 HIV-positive MSM, 16 interviews with key informants and three focus groups with MSM community members. Qualitative analysis was iterative and included debriefing sessions with a study staff, a stakeholders’ workshop and coding for key themes using Atlas.ti.
The predominant theme was the significant and multiple forms of stigma and discrimination faced by MSM living with HIV in this setting due to both their sexual identity and HIV status. Dual stigma led to selective disclosure or lack of disclosure of both identities, and consequently a lack of social support for care-seeking and medication adherence. Perceived and experienced stigma from healthcare settings, particularly around sexual identity, also led to delayed care-seeking, travel to more distant clinics and missed opportunities for appropriate services. Participants described experiences of violence and lack of police protection as well as mental health challenges. Key informants, however, reflected on their duty to provide non-discriminatory services to all Swazis regardless of personal beliefs.
Intersectionality provides a framework for understanding the experiences of dual stigma and discrimination faced by MSM living with HIV in Swaziland and highlights how programmes and policies should consider the specific needs of this population when designing HIV prevention, care and treatment services. In Swaziland, the health sector should consider providing specialized training for healthcare providers, distributing condoms and lubricants and engaging MSM as peer outreach workers or expert clients. Interventions to reduce stigma, discrimination and violence against MSM and people living with HIV are also needed for both healthcare workers and the general population. Finally, research on experiences and needs of MSM living with HIV globally can help inform comprehensive HIV services for this population.
PMCID: PMC3852123  PMID: 24321112
men who have sex with men; positive health dignity and prevention; people living with HIV; qualitative research; Swaziland
11.  Comparison of risk behaviors and socio-cultural profile of men who have sex with men survey respondents recruited via venues and the internet 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:232.
Increasingly more men who have sex with men (MSM) are using the internet to seek sex partners, and many HIV-related studies targeting MSM collect data from gay venues in order to inform the design of prevention programs. However, internet-based MSM may have different HIV risk behaviors and associated factors from those attending venues. This study examined differences in risk behaviors and socio-cultural profiles between MSM recruited from venues (e.g., gay bars/saunas) and from the internet respectively.
An anonymous cross-sectional survey was conducted. A total of 566 Chinese MSM (340 recruited from gay-venues and 226 recruited from the internet) who self-reported having had anal or oral sex with another man in the last 12 months completed a structured questionnaire.
Internet-based MSM were more likely than venue-based MSM to have engaged in unprotected anal intercourse (53.3% vs. 33.8%) or commercial sex (as clients: 12.8% vs. 5.3%; as sex workers: 6.2% vs. 1.5%), to have sought MSM partners from the internet (51.3% vs. 20.9%), and to have contracted sexually transmitted diseases (STD) in the last 12 months (4.4% vs. 0.3%). On the other hand, internet-based MSM were less likely to have multiple sex partners (58.4% vs. 75.6%) and to have used psychoactive substances (7.1% vs. 15.6%) or drunk alcohol before sex (8.8% vs. 16.2%). Moreover, internet-based MSM reported poor acceptance of their own sexual orientation, felt more discriminated against, and received less social support than venue-recruited MSM.
Significant differences were observed between the two groups of MSM. Segmentation and targeted interventions are recommended when designing preventive interventions.
PMCID: PMC2880294  PMID: 20444297
12.  Bias in Online Recruitment and Retention of Racial and Ethnic Minority Men Who Have Sex With Men 
The Internet has become an increasingly popular venue for men who have sex with men (MSM) to meet potential sex partners. Given this rapid increase in online sex-seeking among MSM, Internet-based interventions represent an important HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) prevention strategy. Unfortunately, black and Hispanic MSM, who are disproportionately impacted by the HIV epidemic in the United States, have been underrepresented in online research studies.
Our objective was to examine and quantify factors associated with underrecruitment and underretention of MSM of color in an online HIV behavioral risk research study of MSM recruited from an online social networking site.
Internet-using MSM were recruited through banner advertisements on targeted at men who reported in their MySpace profile their age as at least 18 and their sexual orientation as gay, bisexual, or unsure. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to estimate the odds stratified by race and ethnicity of the MySpace user clicking through the banner advertisement. To characterize survey retention, Kaplan-Meier survival curves and multivariable Cox proportional hazards models identified factors associated with survey dropout.
Over 30,000 MySpace users clicked on the study banner advertisements (click-through rate of 0.37%, or 30,599 clicks from 8,257,271 impressions). Black (0.36% or 6474 clicks from 1,785,088 impressions) and Hispanic (0.35% or 8873 clicks from 2,510,434 impressions) MySpace users had a lower click-through rate compared with white (0.48% or 6995 clicks from 1,464,262 impressions) MySpace users. However, black men had increased odds of click-through for advertisements displaying a black model versus a white model (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 1.83, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.72 - 1.95), and Hispanic participants had increased odds of click-through when shown an advertisement displaying an Asian model versus a white model (adjusted OR = 1.70, 95% CI 1.62 - 1.79). Of the 9005 men who consented to participate, 6258 (69%) completed the entire survey. Among participants reporting only male sex partners, black non-Hispanic and Hispanic participants were significantly more likely to drop out of the survey relative to white non-Hispanic participants (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.6, 95% CI 1.4 - 1.8 and HR = 1.3, 95% CI 1.1 - 1.4, respectively). Men with a college-level of education were more likely to complete the survey than those with a high-school level of education (HR = 0.8, 95% CI 0.7 - 0.9), while men who self-identified as heterosexual were more likely to drop out of the survey compared with men who self-identified as gay (HR = 2.1, 95% CI 1.1 - 3.7).
This analysis identified several factors associated with recruitment and retention of MSM in an online survey. Differential click-through rates and increased survey dropout by MSM of color indicate that methods to recruit and retain black and Hispanic MSM in Internet-based research studies are paramount. Although targeting banner advertisements to MSM of color by changing the racial/ethnic composition of the advertisements may increase click-through, decreasing attrition of these study participants once they are engaged in the survey remains a challenge.
PMCID: PMC3221372  PMID: 21571632
HIV infections/prevention and control; Internet; homosexuality male; research methodology; behavioral research
13.  Challenges in Providing Counselling to MSM in Highly Stigmatized Contexts: Results of a Qualitative Study from Kenya 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e64527.
The role of men who have sex with men (MSM) in the African HIV epidemic is gaining recognition yet capacity to address the HIV prevention needs of this group is limited. HIV testing and counselling is not only a critical entry point for biomedical HIV prevention interventions, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis, rectal microbicides and early treatment initiation, but is also an opportunity for focused risk reduction counselling that can support individuals living in difficult circumstances. For prevention efforts to succeed, however, MSM need to access services and they will only do so if these are non-judgmental, informative, focused on their needs, and of clear benefit. This study aimed to understand Kenyan providers' attitudes towards and experiences with counselling MSM in a research clinic targeting this group for HIV prevention. We used in-depth interviews to explore values, attitudes and cognitive and social constructs of 13 counsellors and 3 clinicians providing services to MSM at this clinic. Service providers felt that despite their growing experience, more targeted training would have been helpful to improve their effectiveness in MSM-specific risk reduction counselling. They wanted greater familiarity with MSM in Kenya to better understand the root causes of MSM risk-taking (e.g., poverty, sex work, substance abuse, misconceptions about transmission, stigma, and sexual desire) and felt frustrated at the perceived intractability of some of their clients' issues. In addition, they identified training needs on how to question men about specific risk behaviours, improved strategies for negotiating risk reduction with counselling clients, and improved support supervision from senior counsellors. This paper describes the themes arising from these interviews and makes practical recommendations on training and support supervision systems for nascent MSM HIV prevention programmes in Africa.
PMCID: PMC3676420  PMID: 23762241
14.  HIV Prevention Interventions in Chennai, India: Are Men Who Have Sex with Men Being Reached? 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2009;23(11):981-986.
India has the greatest number of HIV infections in Asia and the third highest total number of infected persons globally. Men who have sex with men (MSM) are considered by the Government of India's National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) a “core risk group” for HIV in need of HIV prevention efforts. However there is a dearth of information on the frequency of participation in HIV prevention interventions and subsequent HIV risk and other correlates among MSM in India. Recruited through peer outreach workers, word of mouth and snowball sampling techniques, 210 MSM in Chennai completed an interviewer-administered assessment, including questions about participating in any HIV prevention interventions in the past year, sexual risk taking, demographics, MSM identities, and other psychosocial variables. Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression procedures were used to examine behavioral and demographic correlates with HIV prevention intervention participation. More than a quarter (26%) of the sample reported participating in an HIV prevention intervention in the year prior to study participation. Participants who reported engaging in unprotected anal sex (UAS; odds ratio [OR] = 0.28; p = 0.01) in the 3 months prior to study enrollment were less likely to have participated in an HIV prevention program in the past year. MSM who were older (OR = 1.04; p = 0.05), kothis (feminine acting/appearing and predominantly receptive partners in anal sex) compared to panthis (masculine appearing, predominantly insertive partners; OR = 5.52, p = 0.0004), those with higher educational attainment (OR = 1.48, p = 0.01), being “out” about having sex with other men (OR = 4.03, p = 0.0001), and MSM who reported ever having been paid in exchange for sex (OR = 2.92, p = 0.001) were more likely to have reported participation in an HIV prevention intervention in the preceding year. In a multivariable model, MSM reporting UAS in the prior 3 months were less likely to have participated in an HIV prevention intervention (AOR = 0.34, p = 0.04). MSM who were older (AOR = 1.05, p = 0.05), those with higher educational attainment (AOR = 1.92, p = 0.0009), and MSM who were “out” about having sex with other men (AOR = 2.71, p = 0.04) were more likely to have reported participating in an HIV prevention program. Findings suggest that exposure to HIV prevention interventions may be protective against engaging in UAS for some MSM in India. Understanding predictors of participation in an HIV prevention intervention is helpful for identifying Indian MSM who might have had no exposure to HIV prevention information and skills building, hence allowing researchers and prevention workers to focus efforts on individuals at greatest need.
PMCID: PMC2859779  PMID: 19821722
15.  Advancing Novel HIV Prevention Intervention Research with MSM—Meeting Report 
Public Health Reports  2011;126(4):472-479.
HIV continues to exact an enormous toll on society and to disproportionately affect gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men (MSM). Innovative prevention interventions are needed to reverse this trend. In August 2009, the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention convened a meeting of scientists, community representatives, advocates, and federal partners to discuss innovative prevention-intervention science. The meeting was structured to maximize discussion of (1) healthy sex interventions, (2) community and structural interventions, (3) integrated biomedical and behavioral interventions, and (4) interventions to improve uptake of HIV testing. Presentations and discussion focused on research gaps in designing risk-reducing and sexual health-promoting interventions for MSM, including interventions to address mental health, substance use, disclosure, and stigma. This article summarizes the meeting proceedings, highlights key points, and outlines future directions.
PMCID: PMC3115207  PMID: 21800742
16.  Sex between men in the context of HIV: The AIDS 2008 Jonathan Mann Memorial Lecture in health and human rights 
Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) have been among the most affected populations by HIV since the AIDS pandemic was first identified in the 1980s. Evidence from a wide range of studies show that these men remain at the highest risk for HIV acquisition in both developed and developing countries, and that despite three decades of evidence of their vulnerability to HIV, they remain under-served and under-studied. Prevention strategies targeted to MSM are markedly under-funded in most countries, leading to limited access to health services including prevention, treatment, and care. We explore the global epidemic among MSM in 2008, the limited funding available globally to respond to these epidemics, and the human rights contexts and factors which drive HIV spread and limit HIV responses for these men.
What do we mean by the term MSM? MSM is a construct from the 1990s that tries to capture behavior and not identity. It was crafted to avoid stigmatizing and culturally laden terms such as gay or bisexual, which do not capture the wide diversity of orientations, sexual practices, cultures, and contextual settings in which male same-sex behaviors occur, and where HIV transmission and acquisition risks are centered. MSM includes both gay and non-gay identified men, bisexual men, and MSM who identify themselves as heterosexuals. It also includes men engaging in "situational" sex between men, such as can occur in prisons, schools, militaries or other environments; and it includes male sex workers who may be of any orientation but are often at very high risk for HIV. MSM may include some biologically male transgender persons, though some do not identify as male. And MSM includes a wide array of traditional and local terms worldwide–with enormous cultural diversity in Asia, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere. We use the term MSM here at its most inclusive.
PMCID: PMC2631526  PMID: 19108725
17.  Field-based video pre-test counseling, oral testing and telephonic post-test counseling: Implementation of an HIV field testing package among high-risk Indian men 
In India, men who have sex with men (MSM) and truck drivers are high-risk groups that often do not access HIV testing due to stigma and high mobility. This study evaluated a field testing package (FTP) that identified HIV positive participants through video pre-test counseling, OraQuick oral fluid HIV testing, and telephonic post-test counseling and then connected them to government facilities. 598 MSM and truck drivers participated in the FTP and completed surveys covering sociodemographics, HIV testing history, risk behaviors, and opinions on the FTP. Those who had previously been tested preferred traditional methods to video counseling. MSM and truck drivers equally preferred video counseling, although MSM who had been previously tested preferred traditional methods. Nearly all participants preferred oral testing. Rates of counseling completion and linkage to government centers were low, with one third of newly identified positives completing follow-up. With increased public-private coordination, this FTP could identify many hard-to-reach preliminary positive individuals and connect them to government testing and care.
PMCID: PMC3660959  PMID: 22827901
Men who have sex with men (MSM); truck drivers; oral fluid HIV testing; India; telephonic counseling
18.  Global epidemiology of HIV infection in men who have sex with men 
Lancet  2012;380(9839):367-377.
Epidemics of HIV in men who have sex with men (MSM) continue to expand in most countries. We sought to understand the epidemiological drivers of the global epidemic in MSM and why it continues unabated. We did a comprehensive review of available data for HIV prevalence, incidence, risk factors, and the molecular epidemiology of HIV in MSM from 2007 to 2011, and modelled the dynamics of HIV transmission with an agent-based simulation. Our findings show that the high probability of transmission per act through receptive anal intercourse has a central role in explaining the disproportionate disease burden in MSM. HIV can be transmitted through large MSM networks at great speed. Molecular epidemiological data show substantial clustering of HIV infections in MSM networks, and higher rates of dual-variant and multiple-variant HIV infection in MSM than in heterosexual people in the same populations. Prevention strategies that lower biological transmission and acquisition risks, such as approaches based on antiretrovirals, offer promise for controlling the expanding epidemic in MSM, but their potential effectiveness is limited by structural factors that contribute to low health-seeking behaviours in populations of MSM in many parts of the world.
PMCID: PMC3805037  PMID: 22819660
19.  Sexual health of ethnic minority MSM in Britain (MESH project): design and methods 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:419.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) remain the group most at risk of acquiring HIV infection in Britain. HIV prevalence appears to vary widely between MSM from different ethnic minority groups in this country for reasons that are not fully understood. The aim of the MESH project was to examine in detail the sexual health of ethnic minority MSM living in Britain.
The main objectives of the MESH project were to explore among ethnic minority MSM living in Britain: (i) sexual risk behaviour and HIV prevalence; (ii) their experience of stigma and discrimination; (iii) disclosure of sexuality; (iv) use of, and satisfaction with sexual health services; (v) the extent to which sexual health services (for treatment and prevention) are aware of the needs of ethnic minority MSM.
The research was conducted between 2006 and 2008 in four national samples: (i) ethnic minority MSM living in Britain; (ii) a comparison group of white British MSM living in Britain; (iii) NHS sexual health clinic staff in 15 British towns and cities with significant ethnic minority communities and; (iv) sexual health promotion/HIV prevention service providers. We also recruited men from two "key migrant" groups living in Britain: MSM born in Central or Eastern Europe and MSM born in Central or South America.
Internet-based quantitative and qualitative research methods were used. Ethnic minority MSM were recruited through advertisements on websites, in community venues, via informal networks and in sexual health clinics. White and "key migrant" MSM were recruited mostly through Gaydar, one of the most popular dating sites used by gay men in Britain. MSM who agreed to take part completed a questionnaire online. Ethnic minority MSM who completed the online questionnaire were asked if they would be willing to take part in an online qualitative interview using email.
Service providers were identified through the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) and the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) CHAPS partnerships. Staff who agreed to take part were asked to complete a questionnaire online.
The online survey was completed by 1241 ethnic minority MSM, 416 men born in South and Central America or Central and Eastern Europe, and 13,717 white British MSM; 67 ethnic minority MSM took part in the online qualitative interview. In addition 364 people working in sexual health clinics and 124 health promotion workers from around Britain completed an online questionnaire.
The findings from this study will improve our understanding of the sexual health and needs of ethnic minority MSM in Britain.
PMCID: PMC2916902  PMID: 20630087
20.  Sexual Mixing Patterns and Partner Characteristics of Black MSM in Massachusetts at Increased Risk for HIV Infection and Transmission 
Black men who have sex with men (MSM) are at increased risk for HIV infection in the United States compared to other MSM. The aim of this study was to investigate Black MSM’s sexual mixing patterns and partner characteristics in relation to sexual risk taking, as a possible explanation for this observed increase in HIV incidence. Between January and July 2008, 197 Black MSM were recruited via modified respondent-driven sampling and completed optional pretest and post-test HIV serological testing, counseling, and a demographic, behavioral, and psychosocial assessment battery. Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression procedures were used to examine predictors of risky sex across partner types. Overall, 18% of the sample was HIV-infected; 50% reported unprotected intercourse with men, 30% with women, and 5% with transgender partners. Fifty-three percent identified as bisexual or straight, although all reported oral or anal sex with another man in the prior 12 months. Significant predictors of engaging in at least one episode of: (1) serodiscordant unprotected anal sex (UAS) with a male partner in the past 12 months: individuals at risk for social isolation (AOR = 4.23; p = 0.03), those with unstable housing (AOR = 4.19; p = 0.03), and those who used poppers at least weekly during sex (AOR = 5.90; p = 0.05); (2) UAS and/or unprotected vaginal intercourse with a female partner in the past 12 months: those with unstable housing (AOR = 4.85; p = 0.04), those who used cocaine at least weekly during sex (AOR = 16.78; p = 0.006), being HIV-infected (AOR = 0.07; p = 0.02), and feeling social norms favor condom use (AOR = 0.60; p = 0.05); (3) UAS with the participants’ most recent nonmain male sex partner: use of alcohol and drugs during last sex by participant (AOR = 4.04; p = 0.01), having sex with a Hispanic/Latino male (AOR = 2.71; p = 0.04) or a Black male (AOR = 0.50; p = 0.05) compared to a White male, and lower education (AOR = 1.31; p = 0.02). Findings suggest that sexual risk behaviors of Black MSM differ across partner type and by the characteristics of their sexual networks and that this subpopulation of MSM are at high risk for HIV acquisition and transmission. Effective prevention strategies need to address the distinct sexual and behavioral risk patterns presented by different sexual partnerships reported by Black MSM.
PMCID: PMC2704278  PMID: 19466554
HIV/AIDS; STD; African American/Black; MSM; Prevention
21.  The HIV related risks among men having sex with men in rural Yunnan, China: a qualitative study 
Sexually Transmitted Infections  2006;82(2):127-130.
To explore the characteristics and issues specific to HIV related risk behaviours among men who have sex with men (MSM) in rural China.
Qualitative study using semistructured in‐depth interviews in Dali prefecture, Yunnan. 24 informants recruited through a local MSM network, snowballing and by word of mouth. The main outcome measures were themes identified as increased exposures and risks to HIV.
Risk behaviour, social stigma, one child policy and concepts of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) had significant roles in the spread of HIV in rural China. Many MSM lead a life with double identities in China and condom use was found to be variable with attempts to “rationalise” the risky behaviour being its major determining factor. Health seeking behaviours of genitourinary problems were infrequent and illogical, which were further held back by the existing healthcare system and lack of sensitivity expressed by the health professionals.
Clear education messages to the general public while raising awareness among health professionals of the health risks and needs in MSM are essential in the prevention of the current HIV epidemic.
PMCID: PMC2564683  PMID: 16581737
HIV; MSM; China
22.  Consistent condom use with regular, paying, and casual male partners and associated factors among men who have sex with men in Tamil Nadu, India: findings from an assessment of a large-scale HIV prevention program 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:827.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) are a marginalized population at high risk for HIV infection. Promoting consistent condom use (CCU) during anal sex is a key risk reduction strategy for HIV prevention among MSM. To inform effective HIV prevention interventions, we examined the factors associated with CCU among MSM with their regular, paying, and casual partners, as well as with all three types of partners combined.
Data for this analysis were from a large-scale bio-behavioural survey conducted during 2009–2010 in Tamil Nadu, India. MSM aged 18 years or older were recruited for the survey using time-location cluster sampling at cruising sites in four districts of Tamil Nadu. Binary logistic regression analyses were conducted to assess the association of CCU with selected socio-demographic characteristics and other contextual factors.
Among 1618 MSM interviewed, CCU during anal sex with regular, paying, and a casual male partner was 45.3%, 50.8% and 57.9%, respectively. CCU with all three types of partners combined was 52.6%. Characteristics associated with increased odds for CCU with MSM having all three types of partners combined were frequent receptive anal sex acts with regular partners (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 2.17, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01-4.65), fewer number of casual partners (AOR 3.41, 95% CI 1.50-7.73) and membership in a community-based organization (CBO) for MSM (AOR 3.54, 95% CI 1.62-7.74). CCU with regular partners was associated with membership in a CBO (AOR 1.96, 95% CI 1.23-3.11), whereas CCU with paying, and casual male partners was associated with perceived higher risk of acquiring HIV (AOR 1.92, 95% CI 1.22-3.01) and exposure to any HIV prevention intervention (AOR 3.62, 95% CI 1.31-10.0), respectively. Being aged 26 years or older, being in debt, and alcohol use were factors associated with inconsistent condom use across partner types.
HIV interventions among MSM need to promote CCU with all types (regular, paying, and causal) of male partners, and need to reach MSM across all age groups. In addition to enhancing interventions that focus on individual level risk reduction, it is important to undertake structural interventions that promote social acceptance of same-sex sexuality and address contextual barriers to condom use such as alcohol use.
PMCID: PMC3854867  PMID: 24020613
Men who have sex with men; MSM; Condom use; Male sexual partners; Sexual risk; Tamil Nadu; India
23.  Men Who Have Sex with Men and Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Sexually Transmitted Disease Control in China 
Cell research  2005;15(11-12):858-864.
To address the role of men who have sex with men (MSM) in the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/sexually transmitted disease (STD) epidemic in China.
To explore the prevalence of risky sexual behaviors and the existing prevention efforts among men who have sex with men (MSM) in China.
Study Design:
Review of behavioral and STD/HIV prevention studies addressing MSM in China.
Sexual risk behaviors including unprotected group sex, anal sex, casual sex, and commercial sex were prevalent among Chinese MSM. Many Chinese MSM also engaged in unprotected sex with both men and women. Most MSM either did not perceive that they were at risk of HIV/AIDS or underestimated their risk of infection. Surveillance and intervention research among these men are still in the preliminary stages.
Chinese MSM are at risk for HIV/STD infection and potential transmission of HIV to the general population. In addition to sexual risk reduction among MSM, reduction of homosexualityrelated stigma should be part of effective intervention efforts. Volunteers from the MSM community and health care workers in primary health care system may serve as valuable resources for HIV/STD prevention and control among MSM.
PMCID: PMC1791010  PMID: 16354560
24.  Reducing shame in a game that predicts HIV risk reduction for young adult men who have sex with men: a randomized trial delivered nationally over the web 
Journal of the International AIDS Society  2013;16(3Suppl 2):18716.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) often face socially sanctioned disapproval of sexual deviance from the heterosexual “normal.” Such sexual stigma can be internalized producing a painful affective state (i.e., shame). Although shame (e.g., addiction) can predict risk-taking (e.g., alcohol abuse), sexual shame's link to sexual risk-taking is unclear. Socially Optimized Learning in Virtual Environments (SOLVE) was designed to reduce MSM's sexual shame, but whether it does so, and if that reduction predicts HIV risk reduction, is unclear. To test if at baseline, MSM's reported past unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) is related to shame; MSM's exposure to SOLVE compared to a wait-list control (WLC) condition reduces MSM's shame; and shame-reduction mediates the link between WLC condition and UAI risk reduction.
HIV-negative, self-identified African American, Latino or White MSM, aged 18–24 years, who had had UAI with a non-primary/casual partner in the past three months were recruited for a national online study. Eligible MSM were computer randomized to either WLC or a web-delivered SOLVE. Retained MSM completed baseline measures (e.g., UAI in the past three months; current level of shame) and, in the SOLVE group, viewed at least one level of the game. At the end of the first session, shame was measured again. MSM completed follow-up UAI measures three months later. All data from 921 retained MSM (WLC condition, 484; SOLVE condition, 437) were analyzed, with missing data multiply imputed.
At baseline, MSM reporting more risky sexual behaviour reported more shame (r s=0.21; p<0.001). MSM in the SOLVE intervention reported more shame reduction (M=−0.08) than MSM in the control condition (M=0.07; t(919)=4.24; p<0.001). As predicted, the indirect effect was significant (point estimate −0.10, 95% bias-corrected CI [−0.01 to −0.23] such that participants in the SOLVE treatment condition reported greater reductions in shame, which in turn predicted reductions in risky sexual behaviour at follow-up. The direct effect, however, was not significant.
SOLVE is the first intervention to: (1) significantly reduce shame for MSM; and (2) demonstrate that shame-reduction, due to an intervention, is predictive of risk (UAI) reduction over time.
PMCID: PMC3833191  PMID: 24242264
stigma; shame; intervention; serious games; SOLVE; HIV; AIDS; sexual risk-taking; men who have sex with men (MSM)
25.  Willingness to Participate in HIV Vaccine Trials among Men Who Have Sex with Men in Chennai and Mumbai, India: A Social Ecological Approach 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51080.
Recruitment of low- and middle-income country volunteers from most-at-risk populations in HIV vaccine trials is essential to vaccine development. In India, men who have sex with men (MSM) are at disproportionately high risk for HIV infection and an important population for trial recruitment. Investigations of willingness to participate (WTP) in HIV vaccine trials have focused predominantly on individual-level determinants. We explored multi-level factors associated with WTP among MSM in India.
We conducted 12 focus groups (n = 68) with low socioeconomic MSM in Chennai and Mumbai, and 14 key informant interviews with MSM community leaders and service providers. Focus groups/interviews were recorded, transcribed and translated into English. Two bilingual investigators conducted thematic analysis using line-by-line coding and a constant comparative method, with member-checking by community representatives.
Factors associated with WTP were evidenced across the social ecology of MSM–social-structural: poverty, HIV-, sexual- and gender non-conformity stigma, institutionalized discrimination and government sponsorship of trials; community-level: endorsement by MSM community leaders and organizations, and fear of within-group discrimination; interpersonal: anticipated family discord, partner rejection, having financially-dependent family members and disclosure of same-sex sexuality; and individual-level: HIV vaccine trial knowledge and misconceptions, safety concerns, altruism and preventive misconception.
Pervasive familial, community and social-structural factors characteristic of the Indian sociocultural context may complicate individual-focused approaches to WTP and thereby constrain the effectiveness of interventions to support recruitment and retention in HIV vaccine trials. Interventions to reduce stigma and discrimination against MSM and people living with HIV, capacity-building of MSM community organizations and transparent communications tailored to the knowledge and educational level of local communities may support meaningful engagement of MSM in HIV vaccine trials. Vigilance in providing fair but not excessive compensation and healthcare benefits and in mitigating preventive misconception are warranted to support ethical conduct of trials among MSM in India.
PMCID: PMC3514227  PMID: 23226560

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