Men having sex with men: a better knowledge of their practices in order to better design prevention programmes (France)
Background: Nowadays most studies encompass all men having sex with men (MSM) -even occasionnaly- and not only men that label themselves as gay or bisexual. But what do we know about them? What is relevant for prevention programmes?
Methods: The data has been collected by Sida Info Service -the French HIV/AIDS helpline- counsellors, between 19 June and 10 July 2007. All male callers were asked to answer questionnaire if they had had sex with another man within the last twelve months, regardless of the reason for calling the helpline. The sample is of 243 men.
Results: They are 35 years old on average. 52% identified themselves as homosexual, 25% bisexual, 13% heterosexual and 10% do not know or refuse to label themselves. Four MSM out of ten also had sexual intercourse with women within the last year. 80% percent reported unprotected oral sex, 25% had unprotected anal sex and 22% had vaginal intercourse without a condom. 13% had a sexually transmitted disease in the last 12 months.
11% had unprotected anal sex with a casual partner. These men tend to be younger, have a higher number of casual partners, are less likely to undergo HIV testing and 30% of them also reported unprotected vaginal intercourse in the last year.
Conclusions: This specific way of recruiting the sample also include men that usually are not taken into account in studies where men are selected on homo/bisexual criteria. The results show some correlates of unprotected anal sex with casual partners, and also the stakes of HIV prevention for MSM and their female/male partners. HIV prevention strategies have to take into account specificities according to gender and the perception of risk according to the sex of the partner.
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