Ethnicity and sexual networks among MSM in Britain

Published: July 22, 2010

Ethnicity and sexual networks among MSM in Britain

R. Doerner1, E. McKeown1, S. Nelson2, N. Low3, J. Anderson4, J. Elford1

1City University, London, United Kingdom, 2Terrence Higgins Trust, Bristol, United Kingdom, 3University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland, 4Homerton Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, United Kingdom

Background: There are differences in HIV prevalence between ethnic minority MSM living in Britain which can not be explained by behavioural risk factors. In particular HIV prevalence is lower among South Asian MSM (of Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin) and Chinese MSM compared with Black MSM or white British MSM. In this paper we examine sexual networks of ethnic minority MSM to further understand ethnic differences in HIV prevalence.

Methods: In 2007-2008 a diverse sample of MSM living in Britain was surveyed online. Men were recruited through a variety of websites as well as in bars, clubs and sexual health clinics.

Results: Of the 12696 MSM included in the analysis, 3345 men reported engaging in unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) in the previous 3 months with a casual partner of unknown or discordant HIV status. The 3345 men reported 3515 casual partners in all (some men reported more than one partner).

 

 

 

Respondent

 

Total number of casual partners

Ethnicity of casual partners

 

 

 

White

Black

South Asian

Chinese

White

3148

3240

2096

564

394

186

Black

84

118

54

44*

14

6

South Asian

86

130

60

26

37*

7

Chinese

27

27

20

3

1

3

* Asterisk indicates that the observed number of "same ethnicity" casual partners in that group exceeded the number expected based on chance alone; Black MSM, observed = 44, expected = 16, p<0.0001; South Asian MSM, observed = 37, expected = 12, p<0.0001.

[Table 1 UAI with a nonconconcordant casual partner]

Among Black and South Asian men, the observed number of “same ethnicity” casual partners significantly exceeded the number expected by chance alone (p< 0.0001). Despite this clustering, the majority of South Asian (72%) and Black (63%) MSM reported their casual partners to be from another ethnic group (table 1).

Conclusion: There was some evidence of sexual networks based on ethnicity among Black and South Asian MSM in Britain. However, most ethnic minority MSM reported casual partners from an ethnic group other than their own.

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