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1.  “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
2.  HIV Risk and Associations of HIV Infection among men who have sex with men in Peri-Urban Cape Town, South Africa 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:766.
The HIV epidemic in Sub Saharan Africa has been traditionally assumed to be driven by high risk heterosexual and vertical transmission. However, there is an increasing body of data highlighting the disproportionate burden of HIV infection among MSM in the generalized HIV epidemics across of Southern Africa. In South Africa specifically, there has been an increase in attention focused on the risk status and preventive needs of MSM both in urban centers and peri-urban townships. The study presented here represents the first evaluation of HIV prevalence and associations of HIV infection among MSM in the peri-urban townships of Cape Town.
The study consisted of an anonymous probe of 200 men, reporting ever having had sex with another man, recruited through venue-base sampling from January to February, 2009.
Overall, HIV prevalence was 25.5% (n = 51/200). Of these prevalent HIV infections, only 6% of HIV-1 infected MSM were aware of their HIV status (3/50). 0% of men reported always having safe sex as defined by always wearing condoms during sex and using water-based lubricants. Independent associations with HIV infection included inconsistent condom use with male partners (aOR 2.3, 95% CI 1.0-5.4), having been blackmailed (aOR 4.4, 95% CI 1.6-20.2), age over 26 years (aOR 4.2, 95% CI 1.6-10.6), being unemployed (aOR 3.7, 95% CI 1.5-9.3), and rural origin (aOR 6.0, 95% CI 2.2-16.7). Bisexual activity was reported by 17.1% (34/199), and a total of 8% (16/200) reported having a regular female partner. Human rights violations were common with 10.5% (n = 21/200) reporting having been blackmailed and 21.0% (n = 42/200) reporting being afraid to seek health care.
The conclusions from this study include that a there is a high risk and underserved population of MSM in the townships surrounding Cape Town. The high HIV prevalence and high risk sexual practices suggest that prevalence will continue to increase among these men in the context of an otherwise slowing epidemic. These data further highlight the need to better characterize risk factors for HIV prevention and appropriate targeted combination packages of HIV interventions including biomedical, behavioural, and structural approaches to mitigate HIV risk among these men.
PMCID: PMC3196714  PMID: 21975248
3.  Discussion of HIV Status by Serostatus and Partnership Sexual Risk among Internet-Using MSM in the United States 
Men who have sex with men (MSM), particularly black MSM, are disproportionally infected with HIV. Little is known about how discussion of HIV status between partners varies among MSM by race/ethnicity, and by HIV transmission risk. Among a national survey of 2,031 MSM reporting 5,410 partnerships, black MSM, especially black HIV-positive MSM, serodiscussed with UAI partners less than did white MSM. Although non-black HIV-positive, non-black HIV-negative MSM, and black HIV-negative MSM were more likely to report serodiscussion with UAI partners, black HIV-positive MSM were not. Differential serodiscussion may play a role in explaining the racial/ethnic disparity in HIV incidence.
PMCID: PMC3404205  PMID: 22549381
4.  HIV Vulnerability of Men Who Have Sex with Men in Developing Countries: Horizons Studies, 2001–2008 
Public Health Reports  2010;125(2):316-324.
While male-to-male sexual behavior has been recognized as a primary risk factor for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), research targeting men who have sex with men (MSM) in less-developed countries has been limited due to high levels of stigma and discrimination. In response, the Population Council’s Horizons Program began implementing research activities in Africa and South America beginning in 2001, with the objectives of gathering information on MSM sexual risk behaviors, evaluating HIV-prevention programs, and informing HIV policy makers. The results of this nearly decade-long program are presented in this article as a summary of the Horizons MSM studies in Africa (Senegal and Kenya) and Latin America (Brazil and Paraguay), and include research methodologies, study findings, and interventions evaluated. We also discuss future directions and approaches for HIV research among MSM in developing countries.
PMCID: PMC2821861  PMID: 20297760
5.  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
6.  Commercial sex venues: a closer look at their impact on the syphilis and HIV epidemics among men who have sex with men 
Sexually Transmitted Infections  2006;82(6):439-443.
To provide insight into the role of commercial sex venues in the spread of syphilis and HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM).
A cross sectional study of 1351 MSM who were diagnosed with early syphilis who did and did not encounter sexual partners at commercial sex venues.
Overall, 26% MSM diagnosed with syphilis had sexual encounters at commercial sex venues. Of these, 74% were HIV positive, 94% reported anonymous sex, and 66% did not use a condom. Compared to those who did not have a sexual encounter at these venues, they were twice as likely to be HIV positive (OR = 1.91, 95% CI 1.36 to 2.68), six times more likely to have anonymous sex (OR = 6.18, 95% CI 3.37 to 11.32), twice as likely not to use condom (OR = 2.02, 95% CI 1.71 to 2.38), and twice as likely to use non‐injecting drugs (OR = 1.65, 95% CI 1.21 to 2.37).
MSM diagnosed with syphilis who frequent commercial sex venues are engaging in high risk behaviours for syphilis and HIV transmission and acquisition. Thus commercial sex venues are one of the focal points of syphilis and HIV transmission and acquisition.
PMCID: PMC2563878  PMID: 16885184
commercial sex venues; syphilis; HIV; risk behaviours; men who have sex with men
7.  A pilot cohort study to assess the feasibility of HIV prevention science research among men who have sex with men in Dakar, Senegal 
Journal of the International AIDS Society  2013;16(4Suppl 3):18753.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) are disproportionately burdened by HIV in Senegal, across sub-Saharan Africa and throughout the world. This is driven in part by stigma, and limits health achievements and social capital among these populations. To date, there is a limited understanding of the feasibility of prospective HIV prevention studies among MSM in Senegal, including HIV incidence and cohort retention rates.
One hundred and nineteen men who reported having anal sex with another man in the past 12 months were randomly selected from a sampling frame of 450 unique members of community groups serving MSM in Dakar. These men were enrolled in a 15-month pilot cohort study implemented by a community-based partner. The study included a structured survey instrument and biological testing for HIV, syphilis and hepatitis B virus at two time points.
Baseline HIV prevalence was 36.0% (43/114), with cumulative HIV prevalence at study end being 47.2% (51/108). The annualized incidence rate was 16% (8/40 at risk for seroconversion over 15 months of follow-up, 95% confidence interval 4.6–27.4%). Thirty-seven men were lost to follow up, including at least four deaths. Men who were able to confide in someone about health, emotional distress and sex were less likely to be HIV positive (OR 0.36, p < 0.05, 95% CI 0.13, 0.97).
High HIV prevalence and incidence, as well as mortality in this young population of Senegalese MSM indicate a public health emergency. Moreover, given the high burden of HIV and rate of incident HIV infections, this population appears to be appropriate for the evaluation of novel HIV prevention, treatment and care approaches. Using a study implemented by community-based organizations, there appears to be feasibility in implementing interventions addressing the multiple levels of HIV risk among MSM in this setting. However, low retention across arms of this pilot intervention, and in the cohort, will need to be addressed for larger-scale efficacy trials to be feasible.
PMCID: PMC3852354  PMID: 24321115
HIV; socio-economic status; men who have sex with men; Africa; prevention
8.  HIV-Untested Men who have Sex with Men in South Africa: The Perception of Not Being at Risk and Fear of Being Tested 
AIDS and behavior  2013;17(0 1):51-59.
A community-based needs assessment among men who have sex with men (MSM) in South Africa found that 27% (n=280/1045) of MSM had never been tested for HIV. The most frequently reported reasons for not having been tested were the perception of not being at risk (57%) and fear of being tested (52%). This article explores factors associated with these two reasons among the untested MSM. In multiple logistic regressions, the perception of not being at risk of HIV infection was negatively associated with being black, coloured or Indian, being sexually active, knowing people living with HIV, and a history of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the past 24 months (adj. OR = 0.24, 0.32, 0.38, and 0.22, respectively). Fear of being tested for HIV was positively associated with being black, coloured or Indian, preferred gender expression as feminine, being sexually active, a history of STIs, and experience of victimization on the basis of sexual orientation (adj. OR = 2.90, 4.07, 4.62, 5.05, and 2.34, respectively). Results suggest that HIV prevention programs directed at South African MSM will be more effective if testing and treatment of STIs are better integrated into HIV testing systems. Finally, social exclusion on the basis of race and sexual orientation ought to be addressed in order to reach hidden, at-risk, populations of MSM.
PMCID: PMC3566358  PMID: 23054041
HIV testing; Prevention programs; Reasons for not being tested for HIV; Social exclusion; Men who have sex with men; South Africa
9.  Intimate Partner Violence and Social Pressure among Gay Men in Six Countries 
Recent research suggests that men who have sex with men (MSM) experience intimate partner violence (IPV) at significantly higher rates than heterosexual men. Few studies, however, have investigated implications of heterosexist social pressures – namely, homophobic discrimination, internalized homophobia, and heterosexism – on risk for IPV among MSM, and no previous studies have examined cross-national variations in the relationship between IPV and social pressure. This paper examines reporting of IPV and associations with social pressure among a sample of internet-recruited MSM in the United States (U.S.), Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil.
We recruited internet-using MSM from 6 countries through selective banner advertisements placed on Facebook. Eligibility criteria were men age over 18 reporting sex with a man in the past year. Of the 2,771 eligible respondents, 2,368 had complete data and were included in the analysis. Three outcomes were examined: reporting recent experience of physical violence, sexual violence, and recent perpetration of physical violence. The analysis focused on associations between reporting of IPV and experiences of homophobic discrimination, internalized homophobia, and heteronormativity.
Reporting of experiencing physical IPV ranged from 5.75% in the U.S. to 11.75% in South Africa, while experiencing sexual violence was less commonly reported and ranged from 2.54% in Australia to 4.52% in the U.S. Perpetration of physical violence ranged from 2.47% in the U.S. to 5.76% in South Africa. Experiences of homophobic discrimination, internalized homophobia, and heteronormativity were found to increase odds of reporting IPV in all countries.
There has been little data on IPV among MSM, particularly MSM living in low- and middle-income countries. Despite the lack of consensus in demographic correlates of violence reporting, heterosexist social pressures were found to significantly increase odds of reporting IPV in all countries. These findings show the universality of violence reporting among MSM across countries, and highlight the unique role of heteronormativity as a risk factor for violence reporting among MSM. The results demonstrate that using internet-based surveys to reach MSM is feasible for certain areas, although modified efforts may be required to reach diverse samples of MSM.
PMCID: PMC3415831  PMID: 22900124
10.  Managing and resisting stigma: a qualitative study among people living with HIV in South Africa 
Journal of the International AIDS Society  2012;15(2):10.7448/IAS.15.2.17330.
Living with HIV is of daily concern for many South Africans and poses challenges including adapting to a chronic illness and continuing to achieve and meet social expectations. This study explored experiences of being HIV-positive and how people manage stigma in their daily social interactions.
Using qualitative methods we did repeat interviewed with 42 HIV-positive men and women in Cape Town and Mthatha resulting in 71 interviews.
HIV was ubiquitous in our informants’ lives, and almost all participants reported fear of stigma (perceived stigma), but this fear did not disrupt them completely. The most common stigma experiences were gossips and insults where HIV status was used as a tool, but these were often resisted. Many feared the possibility of stigma, but very few had experiences that resulted in discrimination or loss of social status. Stigma experiences were intertwined with other daily conflicts and together created tensions, particularly in gender relations, which interfered with attempts to regain normality. Evidence of support and resistance to stigma was common, and most encouraging was the evidence of how structural interventions such as de-stigmatizing policies impacted on experiences and transference into active resistance.
The study showed the complex and shifting nature of stigma experiences. These differences must be considered when we intensify stigma reduction with context- and gender-specific strategies focussing on those not yet on ARV programmes.
PMCID: PMC3494166  PMID: 22905361
HIV stigma; South Africa; discrimination; living with HIV; internalized stigma; perceived stigma
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.  HIV testing and self-reported HIV status in South African MSM: Results from a community-based survey 
Sexually transmitted infections  2008;84(6):425-429.
To investigate the characteristics of South African men who have sex with men (MSM) who (1) have been tested for HIV and (2) are HIV-positive.
Data were collected among 1045 MSM in community surveys using questionnaires which were administered either face-to-face, mail, or on the internet. The mean age of the men was 29.9 years. The racial distribution was as follows: 35.3% black, 17.0% coloured, 5.3% Indian, and 41.1% white.
The proportion of MSM that were HIV-tested was 69.7%; having been tested was independently associated with being older, being more open about one's homosexuality, and being homosexually instead of bisexually attracted; black MSM, students, and MSM living in KwaZulu-Natal were less likely to have been tested. Of the 728 MSM who had ever been tested, 14.1% (n=103) reported to be HIV-positive (9.9% of the total sample). Being HIV-positive is independently associated with two factors: men who were positive were more likely to have a lower level of education and to know other persons who were living with HIV/AIDS; race was not independently associated with HIV status among those who had been tested.
The likelihood of having been tested for HIV seems to decrease with increasing social vulnerability. Racially, the distribution of HIV among MSM seems to differ from that of the general South African population, suggesting that while intertwined with the heterosexual epidemic, there is also an epidemic among South African MSM with specific dynamics. These findings suggest that in-depth research is urgently needed to address the lack of understanding of HIV testing practices and HIV prevalence in South African MSM.
PMCID: PMC2662340  PMID: 19028940
HIV testing; HIV status; MSM; South Africa; community-based survey; health disparities
13.  Same-sex sexual behavior of men in Kenya: Implications for HIV prevention, programs, and policy 
Facts, Views & Vision in ObGyn  2012;4(4):285-294.
Unprotected anal sex has long been recognized as a risk factor for HIV transmission among men who have sex with men (MSM). In Africa, however, general denial of MSM existence and associated stigma discouraged research. To address this gap in the literature, partners conducted the first behavioral surveys of MSM in Kenya. The first study was to assess HIV risk among MSM in Nairobi, and the second study a pre-post intervention study of male sex workers in Mombasa. The 2004 behavioral survey of 500 men in Mombasa revealed that MSM were having multiple sexual partners and failed to access appropriate prevention counseling and care at Kenya clinics. A 2006 capture-recapture enumeration in Mombasa estimated that over 700 male sex workers were active, after which a pre-intervention baseline survey of 425 male sex workers was conducted. Awareness of unprotected anal sex as an HIV risk behavior and consistent condom use with clients was low, and use of oil-based lubricants high. Based on this information, peer educators were trained in HIV prevention, basic counseling skills, and distribution of condoms and lubricants. To assess impact of the interventions, a follow-up survey of 442 male sex workers was implemented in 2008. Exposure to peer educators was significantly associated with increased consistent condom use, improved HIV knowledge, and increased use of water-based lubricants. These results have provided needed information to the Government of Kenya and have informed HIV prevention interventions.
PMCID: PMC3987482  PMID: 24753921
HIV prevention; men who have sex with men; male sex workers; Africa; condoms; surveys
14.  “They see you as a different thing”: The Experiences of Men Who Have Sex with Men with Health Care Workers in South African Township Communities 
Sexually transmitted infections  2008;84(6):430-433.
To describe interactions between men who have sex with men (MSM) and health care workers (HCWs) in peri-urban township communities in South Africa.
Qualitative study using semistructured in-depth interviews and focus group discussions in the Gauteng province townships of Soweto and Mamelodi. We purposively sampled 32 MSM for in-depth interviews and 15 for focus group discussions. Topics explored included identity, sexuality, community life, use of health services, and experiences of stigma and discrimination.
MSM felt their options for non-stigmatizing sexual health care services were limited by homophobic verbal harassment by HCWs. Gay-identified men sought out clinics with reputations for employing HCWs who respected their privacy and their sexuality, and challenged those HCWs who mistreated them. Non-gay identified MSM presented masculine, heterosexual identities when presenting for sexual health problems, and avoided discussing their sexuality with HCWs.
The strategies MSM employ to confront or avoid homophobia from HCWs may not be conducive to sexual health promotion in this population. Interventions that increase the capacity of public sector HCWs to provide appropriate sexual health services to MSM are urgently needed.
PMCID: PMC2780345  PMID: 19028941
Africa; HIV; homosexual men; health care seeking; sexually transmitted diseases
15.  Unsafe Sexual Behavior Among HIV-Infected Patients in Croatia, 2006: Prevalence and Associated Factors 
AIDS and behavior  2008;12(4 Suppl):S86-S92.
Information about risky sexual behavior among people living with HIV/AIDS is important to prevent the spread of the disease. Using an anonymous, self-administrated questionnaire, we surveyed 185 HIV-infected patients about risk behaviors at the University Hospital for Infectious Diseases in Croatia. Unprotected anal or vaginal sex in the preceding 6 months with partners of uninfected/unknown HIV status was reported by 20% of men who have sex with men (MSM), about half of whom reported multiple casual partners of unknown HIV status; 6% of heterosexual men; and 3% of women. Heterosexual patients were potentially more likely to expose regular partners to HIV but reported no risk behaviors with casual, non-concordant partners. MSM reported more risk behaviors, which were strongly associated with having ≥2 sexual partners in the last 6 months and both insertive and receptive anal sex. Educational interventions in Croatia should target MSM to prevent high rates of HIV transmission
PMCID: PMC2715159  PMID: 18543093
Men who have sex with men; Risk factors; Condom use; Croatia; HIV
16.  Building the evidence base for urgent action: HIV epidemiology and innovative programming for men who have sex with men in sub-Saharan Africa 
Journal of the International AIDS Society  2013;16(4Suppl 3):18903.
While still an understudied area, there is a growing body of studies highlighting epidemiologic data on men who have sex with men (MSM) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) which challenge the attitudes of complacency and irrelevancy among donors and country governments that are uncomfortable in addressing key populations (KPs). While some of the past inaction may be explained by ignorance, new data document highly elevated and sustained HIV prevalence that is seemingly isolated from recent overall declines in prevalence. The articles in this series highlight new studies which focus on the stark epidemiologic burden in countries from concentrated, mixed and generalized epidemic settings. The issue includes research from West, Central, East and Southern Africa and explores the pervasive impact of stigma and discrimination as critical barriers to confronting the HIV epidemic among MSM and the intersecting stigma and marginalization found between living with HIV and sexual minority status. Interventions to remove barriers to service access, including those aimed at training providers and mobilizing communities even within stigmatized peri-urban settings, are featured in this issue, which further demonstrates the immediate need for comprehensive action to address HIV among MSM in all countries in the region, regardless of epidemic classification.
PMCID: PMC3852125  PMID: 24321118
men who have sex with men; Sub-Saharan Africa; epidemiology; HIV programmes; stigma and discrimination
17.  Experiences of HIV-Related Stigma Among Young Men Who Have Sex with Men 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2009;23(5):371-376.
Young men who have sex with men (MSM) represent an increasing number of new HIV infections in many communities. Many individuals still hold beliefs that may lead to discrimination against HIV-positive individuals. HIV stigma is associated with negative health and psychosocial outcomes and may lead to greater challenges for this marginalized population. This study describes stigma experienced by HIV-positive young MSM, explores its relationship to psychosocial measures, and tests the hypothesis that stigma scores will be higher in those diagnosed less than 1 year ago versus more than 1 year. From August 2004 to September 2005 young MSM completed a questionnaire including demographic information and psychosocial measures. Descriptive and bivariate analyses of association were used to interpret data from the total stigma scale and four subscales: personalized stigma (PS), public attitudes (PA), negative self-image (NSI), and disclosure concerns (DC). Index scores were calculated by standardizing each subscale for direct comparisons. The 42 participants were: mean 21.3 years; 45% black, 24% Hispanic, 26% white; 14% transgender; and 50% diagnosed HIV-positive less than 1 year. Participants reported HIV-related stigma across all domains with mean index subscale scores: PS 0.57, PA 0.61, NSI 0.63, DC 0.75 indicating that disclosure concerns were prevalent in comparison to other forms of HIV-related stigma. Stigma scores correlated with depression, social support, self-esteem, and romantic loneliness. Stigma scores did not differ for those diagnosed less than 1 year ago versus more than 1 year ago. Providers should address HIV-related stigma concerns, particularly disclosure, throughout the trajectory of the illness when caring for HIV-positive young MSM as a factor affecting health outcomes and psychosocial functioning.
PMCID: PMC2856436  PMID: 19320600
18.  Exploring Risk Behaviors and Vulnerability for HIV among Men Who Have Sex with Men in Abidjan, Cote d′Ivoire: Poor Knowledge, Homophobia and Sexual Violence 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99591.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) are at high risk of HIV. Few data are available on MSM and HIV-related risk behaviors in West Africa. We aimed to describe risk behaviors and vulnerability among MSM in Abidjan, Cote d′Ivoire. We conducted a cross-sectional respondent-driven sampling survey with 601 MSM in 2011–2012. Sociodemographic and behavioural data as well as data related to emotional state and stigma were collected. Population estimates with 95% confidence intervals were produced. Survey weighted logistic regression was used to assess factors associated with inconsistent condom use in the prior 12 months. Most MSM were 24 years of age or younger (63.9%) and had attained at least primary education (84.4%). HIV risk behaviors such as low condom and water-based lubricant use, high numbers of male and female sex partners, and sex work were frequently reported as well as verbal, physical and sexual abuse. Inconsistent condom use during anal sex with a male partner in the prior 12 months was reported by 66.0% of the MSM and was positively associated with history of forced sex, alcohol consumption, having a regular partner and a casual partner, having bought sex, and self-perception of low HIV risk. MSM in Abidjan exhibit multiple and frequent HIV-related risk behaviors. To address those behaviours, a combination of individual but also structural interventions will be needed given the context of stigma, homophobia and violence.
PMCID: PMC4069062  PMID: 24959923
19.  Crystal Methamphetamine Use and Sexual Risk Behaviors among HIV-Positive and HIV-Negative Men Who Have Sex with Men in South Florida 
Using data collected through venue-based sampling in South Florida from 2004 to 2005 as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded National HIV Behavioral Surveillance Among Men Who Have Sex with Men, we estimate the prevalence of crystal methamphetamine use and its association with high-risk sexual behaviors among a large and diverse sample of men who have sex with men (MSM) residing in South Florida. We also examine how these associations differ between HIV-positive and HIV-negative men. Bivariate analyses were used to assess the characteristics of study participants and their sexual risk behaviors by drug use and self-reported HIV status group. Of 946 MSM participants in South Florida, 18% reported crystal methamphetamine use in the past 12 months. Regardless of self-reported HIV status, crystal methamphetamine users were more likely to report high-risk sexual behaviors, an increased number of non-main sex partners, and being high on drugs and/or alcohol at last sex act with a non-main partner. Our findings indicate that crystal methamphetamine use is prevalent among the MSM population in South Florida, and this prevalence rate is similar, if not higher, than that found in US cities that have been long recognized for having a high rate of crystal methamphetamine use among their MSM populations. Notably, the use of crystal methamphetamine among both HIV-positive and HIV-negative MSM is associated with increased HIV-related risk behaviors.
PMCID: PMC2871089  PMID: 20101468
Crystal methamphetamine; MSM; HIV-positive; Injection drug users; Sexual risk behaviors
20.  HIV testing attitudes, AIDS stigma, and voluntary HIV counselling and testing in a black township in Cape Town, South Africa 
Sexually Transmitted Infections  2003;79(6):442-447.
Objectives: A cornerstone of HIV prevention in South Africa is voluntary HIV antibody counselling and testing (VCT), but only one in five South Africans aware of VCT have been tested. This study examined the relation between HIV testing history, attitudes towards testing, and AIDS stigmas.
Methods: Men (n = 224) and women (n = 276) living in a black township in Cape Town completed venue intercept surveys; 98% were black, 74% age 35 or younger.
Results: 47% of participants had been tested for HIV. Risks for exposure to HIV were high and comparable among people tested and not tested. Comparisons on attitudes toward VCT, controlling for demographics and survey venue, showed that individuals who had not been tested for HIV and those tested but who did not know their results held significantly more negative testing attitudes than individuals who were tested, particularly people who knew their test results. Compared to people who had been tested, individuals who were not tested for HIV demonstrated significantly greater AIDS related stigmas; ascribing greater shame, guilt, and social disapproval to people living with HIV. Knowing test results among those tested was not related to stigmatising beliefs.
Conclusions: Efforts to promote VCT in South Africa require education about the benefits of testing and, perhaps more important, reductions in stigmatising attitudes towards people living with AIDS. Structural and social marketing interventions that aim to reduce AIDS stigmas will probably decrease resistance to seeking VCT.
PMCID: PMC1744787  PMID: 14663117
21.  Exploring the venue’s role in risky sexual behavior among gay and bisexual men: An event-level analysis from a national online survey in the U.S 
Archives of sexual behavior  2011;42(2):291-302.
Venue-based characteristics (e.g., alcohol in bars, anonymous chat online, dark/quiet spaces in bathhouses) can impact how men who have sex with men (MSM) negotiate sex and HIV-associated risk behavior. We sought to determine the association between HIV-associated risk factors and the venues where MSM met their most recent new (first-time) male sex partner, using data from a 2004–2005 national online anonymous survey of MSM in the U.S (n = 2865). Most men (62%) met their partner through the Internet. Among those reporting anal sex during their last encounter (n = 1,550), half had not used a condom. In multivariate modeling, and among men reporting anal sex during their last encounter, venue where partner was met was not associated with unprotected anal intercourse (UAI). Nevertheless, venue was related to other factors that contextualized men’s sexual encounters. For example, HIV status disclosure was lowest among men who met their most recent partner in a park, outdoors, or other public place and highest among men who met their most recent partner online. Alcohol use prior to/during last sexual encounter was highest among men who met their most recent partner in a bathhouse or a bar/club/party/event. These data suggest it is possible to reach men online who seek sex in many different venues, thus potentially broadening the impact of prevention messages delivered in virtual environments. Although not associated with UAI, venues are connected to social-behavioral facets of corresponding sexual encounters, and may be important arenas for differential HIV and STI education, treatment, and prevention.
PMCID: PMC3684013  PMID: 22012413
Sex venues; gay and bisexual men; Internet; HIV status disclosure; alcohol; condom use
22.  HIV Prevalence, Risks for HIV Infection, and Human Rights among Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) in Malawi, Namibia, and Botswana 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(3):e4997.
In the generalized epidemics of HIV in southern Sub-Saharan Africa, men who have sex with men have been largely excluded from HIV surveillance and research. Epidemiologic data for MSM in southern Africa are among the sparsest globally, and HIV risk among these men has yet to be characterized in the majority of countries.
A cross-sectional anonymous probe of 537 men recruited with non-probability sampling among men who reported ever having had sex with another man in Malawi, Namibia, and Botswana using a structured survey instrument and HIV screening with the OraQuick© rapid test kit.
Principal Findings
The HIV prevalence among those between the ages of 18 and 23 was 8.3% (20/241); 20.0% (42/210) among those 24–29; and 35.7% (30/84) among those older than 30 for an overall prevalence of 17.4% (95% CI 14.4–20.8). In multivariate logistic regressions, being older than 25 (aOR 4.0, 95% CI 2.0–8.0), and not always wearing condoms during sex (aOR 2.6, 95% CI 1.3–4.9) were significantly associated with being HIV-positive. Sexual concurrency was common with 16.6% having ongoing concurrent stable relationships with a man and a woman and 53.7% had both male and female sexual partners in proceeding 6 months. Unprotected anal intercourse was common and the use of petroleum-based lubricants was also common when using condoms. Human rights abuses, including blackmail and denial of housing and health care was prevalent with 42.1% (222/527) reporting at least one abuse.
MSM are a high-risk group for HIV infection and human rights abuses in Malawi, Namibia, and Botswana. Concurrency of sexual partnerships with partners of both genders may play important roles in HIV spread in these populations. Further epidemiologic and evaluative research is needed to assess the contribution of MSM to southern Africa's HIV epidemics and how best to mitigate this. These countries should initiate and adequately fund evidence-based and targeted HIV prevention programs for MSM.
PMCID: PMC2657212  PMID: 19325707
23.  Serostatus Disclosure to Sexual Partners among People Living with HIV: Examining the Roles of Partner Characteristics and Stigma 
AIDS care  2012;25(5):566-572.
HIV serostatus disclosure among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) is an important component of preventing HIV transmission to sexual partners. Due to barriers like stigma, however, many PLWHA do not disclose their serostatus to all sexual partners. This study explored differences in HIV serostatus disclosure based on sexual behavior subgroup [men who have sex with men (MSM), heterosexual men, and women], characteristics of the sexual relationship (relationship type and HIV serostatus of partner), and perceived stigma. We examined disclosure in a sample of 341 PLWHA: 138 MSM, 87 heterosexual men, and 116 heterosexual women who were enrolled in SafeTalk, a randomized, controlled trial of a safer sex intervention. We found that, overall, 79% of participants disclosed their HIV status to all sexual partners in the past 3 months. However, we found important differences in disclosure by subgroup and relationship characteristics. Heterosexual men and women were more likely to disclose their HIV status than MSM (86%, 85%, and 69%, respectively). Additionally, disclosure was more likely among participants with only primary partners than those with only casual or both casual and primary partners (92%, 54%, and 62%, respectively). Participants with only HIV-positive partners were also more likely to disclose than those with only HIV-negative partners, unknown serostatus partners, or partners of mixed serostatus (96%, 85%, 40%, and 60%, respectively). Finally, people who perceived more HIV-related stigma were less likely to disclose their HIV serostatus to partners, regardless of subgroup or relationship characteristics. These findings suggest that interventions to help PLWHA disclose, particularly to serodiscordant casual partners, are needed and will likely benefit from inclusion of stigma reduction components.
PMCID: PMC3622199  PMID: 23020136
HIV serostatus disclosure; stigma; gender differences; sexual partners
24.  Race/ethnic differences in HIV prevalence and risks among adolescent and young adult men who have sex with men 
The prevalence of HIV infection is disproportionately higher in both racial/ethnic minority men who have sex with men (MSM) and in men under the age of 25, where the leading exposure category is homosexual contact. Less is known, however, about patterns of HIV prevalence in young racial/ethnic minority MSM. We analyzed data from the Young men’s Survey (YMS), an anonymous, corss-sectional survey of 351 MSM in Baltimore and 529 MSM in New York City, aged 15–22, to determine whether race/ethnicity differences exist in the prevalence of HIV infection and associated risk factors. Potential participants were selected systematically at MSM-identified public venues. Venues and associated time periods for subject selection were selected randomly on a monthly basis. Eligible and willing subjects provided informed consent and underwent an interview, HIV pretest counseling, and a blood draw for HIV antibody testing. In multivariate analysis, adjusted for city of recruitment, and age, HIV seroprevalence was highest for African Americans [adjusted odds ratio (AOR)=12.5], intermediate for those of “other/mixed” race/ethnicity (AOR=8.6), and moderately elevated for Hispanics (AOR=4.6) as compared to whites. Stratified analysis showed different risk factors for HIV prevalence in each ethnic group: for African Americans, these were history of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and not being in school; for Hispanics, risk factors were being aged 20–22, greater number of male partners and use of recreational drugs; and for those of “other/mixed” race/ethnicity, risk factors included injection drug use and (marginally) STDs. These findings suggest the need for HIV prevention and testing programs which target young racial/ethnic, minority MSM and highlight identified risk factors and behaviors.
PMCID: PMC3456687  PMID: 16221919
Adolescents; Drug use; HIV prevalence; Men who have sex with men; Race ethnicity; Sexual behavior
25.  Substance use and sexual behaviours of Japanese men who have sex with men: A nationwide internet survey conducted in Japan 
BMC Public Health  2006;6:239.
Japanese men who have sex with men (MSM), especially those living in large metropolitan areas such as Tokyo and Osaka, are facing a growing HIV/AIDS epidemic. Although the Internet is used as a new venue for meeting sex partners, it can also serve as a useful research tool for investigating the risk behaviours of Japanese MSM. This Internet survey explored the extent of substance use and its association with sexual risk behaviours among Japanese MSM.
Between 28 February 2003 and 16 May 2003 MSM were recruited through 57 Japanese gay-oriented Web sites, gay magazines, and Internet mailing lists. Participants completed a structured questionnaire anonymously through the Internet.
In total, 2,062 Japanese MSM completed the questionnaire. The average age of participants was 29.0 years and 70.5% identified as gay, 20.8% as bisexual, and 8.7% as other. Overall, 34.5% reported never using a substance, 45% reported ever using one type of substance (lifetime reported single substance users), and 19.6% had used more than 1 type of substance (lifetime reported multiple substance users) in their lifetimes. The substances most commonly used were amyl nitrite (63.2%), 5-methoxy-N, N-diisopropyltryptamine (5MEO-DIPT) (9.3%), and marijuana (5.7%). In the multivariate analysis, unprotected anal intercourse, having had 6 or more sexual partners, visiting a sex club/gay venue in the previous 6 months, a lower education level, and being 30 to 39 years of age were associated with both lifetime single and lifetime multiple substance use. Lifetime reported multiple substance use was also correlated with having a casual sex partner, having symptoms of depression, being diagnosed as HIV-positive, and greater HIV/AIDS-related knowledge.
This is the first Internet-based research focused on the sexual and substance use behaviours of MSM in Asia. Our findings suggest a compelling need for prevention interventions to reduce HIV risk-related substance use behaviours among Japanese MSM. The results also suggest that the Internet is potentially a useful tool for collecting behavioural data and promoting prevention interventions among this population.
PMCID: PMC1599727  PMID: 17002800

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