Contextualising male-to-male-sex in Indonesia and Thailand

Published: August 1, 2008

Contextualising male-to-male-sex in Indonesia and Thailand

Background: There has been a recent increase in interest in the experiences of men who have sex with men (MSM) throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The rise in behavioural surveillance and tailored interventions represents a belated recognition that sex between men occurs in all societies, and that in particular social and cultural contexts, sexual practices between men carry a high risk of HIV transmission. 

Methods: A total of 105 one-on-one semi structured interviews were conducted in Indonesia and Thailand in five sites: Surabaya (25); Batam Island (10); Manado (20); Chiang Mai (25); and Bangkok (25). Eight major thematic domains were used: sexual network evolution and overlap; partnership formation and sexual health risk; sameness and difference within and between networks; the place of women in participants’ lives; sexual practice; the importance of communities and contexts; the transformative role of inter-country and regional mobility; and the locally and regionally experienced effects of globalisation and internationalisation on male-to-male sex. 
Results: We report on these key domains across the five sites. This study shows that people move through identities over lifetimes and across contexts. Many men do not identify consistently and unproblematically with sexual identities, and even less identify with a sexuality category like MSM. Men gather together in a range of settings and contexts. While these offer the possibility of male-to-male sex, only occasionally are they organised around sexual opportunity. In addition, these settings are rarely constituted solely of men who currently engage in male-to-male sex. 
Conclusions: The findings of this project have clear implications for research and health promotion practice. Interventions designed around identities or categories of sexuality (including MSM) will fail to reach many men who engage in male-to-male sex. This study has demonstrated the value of focussing on male-to-male sexual practices, rather than on individuals or on presumed predisposing identities. 

-Abstract can be found at link below-

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