HIV prevention challenges in cruising sites used by MSM in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Background: Sexual practices are often affected by the physical setting in which they occur. The purpose of this study is to describe cruising sites in greater Buenos Aires that are used by MSM and to identify the characteristics of the sexual practices that occur there in order to design HIV prevention campaigns that better reflect the socio-spatial aspects of this setting.
Methods: Eleven ethnographic observations were conducted at public places used by MSM to meet others for sex, including porno theatres, darkrooms, sex parties, and public restrooms. Observations were performed in teams and descriptive reports were prepared within 24 hours of the observation. In-depth interviews were also conducted with six MSM, transcribed, coded using a standardized codebook, and analyzed using NVivo, a qualitative analysis software program.
Results: Mapping of cruising sites revealed two different areas, one in the northern part of the city which was not gay identified and used predominantly by MSM of middle and higher socioeconomic status and another in the southwestern part of the city, in an area of transit hubs and red-light districts, which was predominantly used by men of lower socioeconomic status. The study reveals that in these sites, sexual exchanges are characterized by anonymity, brevity, sex with multiple partners, and a lack of verbal communication. Furthermore, there is a fragmented representation of the body, where the other is objectified as a body or body part for the sole purpose of consummating a sexual act. Results suggest significant variety in terms of the sexual identity of the patrons.
Conclusions: This study highlights the need for HIV-prevention strategies that take into account the characteristics of sexual encounters in MSM cruising sites, where high HIV-risk behavior occurs. The findings also call for re-assessments of prevention models which do not consider these characteristics and challenges in their approach.
-Abstract available at link below-