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Unprotected Sex and Associated Risk Factors Among Young Asian and Pacific Islander Men Who Have Sex With Men

January 31, 2003

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

A recent issue of AIDS Education and Prevention featured a study that focused on young Asian and Pacific Islander men who have sex with men (API MSMs). The study was designed to measure young API MSMs' risk of contracting HIV. Researchers looked at sexual partner status and demographic factors associated with how often young API MSMs have unprotected sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse was defined as oral and anal intercourse, as well as any physical contact leading to orgasm.


Methods

Researchers recruited 253 young API MSMs (ages 15-25) who reported having same-gender sexual intercourse within the 12 months preceding the study. Participants were selected from gay-identified venues in Seattle and San Diego between May and August 1999. The venues included such places as coffee houses, gay dance clubs, and gay bars. Participants answered questions about their sexual experiences during a 15 minute face-to-face interview administered by the research team.


Results

Sexual Partners

  • 88% of participants reported having at least one sexual partner in the three months preceding the study.
  • Of these, 41% reported having only one sexual partner; 23% reported having two sexual partners; and 24% reported having three or more sexual partners in the three months preceding the study.

Patterns of Sexual Behavior

  • 60% of the participants who reported having sexual intercourse in the three months preceding the study specified having anal intercourse.
  • Of these, 48% reported having used condoms every time they had anal intercourse; 44% reported having anal intercourse without condoms with at least one man; and 8% reported having anal intercourse without condoms with two or more men.

Main Partner Versus Non-Main Partner

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Participants were also asked to categorize their experiences with "main" or "non-main" partners. Researchers defined a main partner as a "steady boyfriend or lover."

  • 60% of participants reported having anal intercourse with a main partner, and 43% of participants reported having anal intercourse with a non-main partner in the three months preceding the study.
  • 49% of participants reported having unprotected anal intercourse with a main partner, and 25% of participants reported having unprotected anal intercourse with a non-main partner in the three months preceding the study.

The researchers found that young API MSMs were more likely to have unprotected anal intercourse with a main partner than with a non-main partner. They point out that the absence of protection in steady relationships still involves risks for contracting HIV and suggest developing prevention programs for young API MSMs that target steady relationships as a possible source of HIV transmission. They believe these programs should also promote discussion about sexual risk with main partners, as well as joint-couple HIV testing.

The researchers also believe that contrary to prior findings, young API MSMs are as likely to engage in risky sexual behavior as young MSMs from different ethnic backgrounds.

Since the few programs that serve young API MSMs operate out of select metropolitan areas, the researchers recommend developing national intervention programs to better prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in young API MSM communities.


Reference

  1. Kyung-Hee Choi, et al., "Unprotected Sex and Associated Risk Factors among Young Asian and Pacific Islander Men Who Have Sex with Men," AIDS Education and Prevention, vol. 14, no. 6, December 2002, pp.472-81.

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!



  
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This article was provided by Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. It is a part of the publication SHOP Talk: School Health Opportunities and Progress Bulletin.
 
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More on HIV/AIDS in the Asian/Pacific-American Community

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