Perception of HIV among Asian American men who have sex with men

Published: July 22, 2010

Perception of HIV among Asian American men who have sex with men

B. Blake, G. Taylor, L. Robley

Kennesaw State University, Nursing, Kennesaw, United States

Background: Only 30% of Asian Americans living in the United States (US) has ever been HIV tested. This is the lowest HIV testing rate for any ethnic group in the US. Among Asian Americans men, high risk sexual contact with another men account for more than 75% of new HIV infections.
Methods: Asian American men who have sex with men (MSM) were recruited from a community based organization providing services to Asian Americans living a in a metropolitan area in the southeastern US. Individual interviews were conducted with HIV positive MSM and a structured group interview was conducted with HIV negative MSM. During the interviews, participants discussed risks for becoming HIV infected, disclosure of sexual identity and HIV status, and their opinion on current HIV prevention strategies that target Asians. Interviews were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. Data was examined using content analysis. Transcripts were independently reviewed by three researchers, themes identified, and consensus on themes was reached.
Results: Three HIV positive MSM (ages 39 to 41) were interviewed (one Laotian, two Vietnamese) and three themes emerged from the data: My life is over; We don’t like to tell; and It’s hard to get services. Six HIV negative MSM (ages 30 to 45) participated in the structured group interview (five Thais, one Japanese) and three themes emerged from the data: People don’t use condoms; How they look [prospective sex partners]; and Loss of confidentiality.
Conclusions: MSM are highly stigmatized in the Asian community and cultural practices discourage discussions about sex and condom use. Among Asian Americans, there are many subgroups that differ in language and culture; therefore prevention interventions targeting Asians must consider cultural differences within the groups. Without considering ethnicity and cultural, Asian American MSM may be hesitant to seek HIV prevention, testing, and care services.

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