Prevalence of HIV and syphilis infection and risky sexual behaviors among college men who have sex with men in Beijing, China

Published: July 20, 2010

Prevalence of HIV and syphilis infection and risky sexual behaviors among college men who have sex with men in Beijing, China

J. Zheng1,2, L. Pang2, K. Rou2, D. Xiao3, A. Liau2, Z. Wu2

1Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Office for Disease Control and Emergency Response, Beijing, China, 2Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention, Beijing, China, 3Chaoyang District Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Chaoyang Chinese AIDS Volunteer Group (NGO), Beijing, China

Background: HIV infection has increased dramatically among men who have sex with men (MSM) in China in recent years. The objective of this study is to assess the prevalence of HIV and syphilis infection and risky sexual behaviors among college students who are MSM in Beijing.

Methods: MSM college students in Beijing were mainly recruited via the internet and peer-referrals. Self-administered questionnaires were conducted to collect information, including AIDS-related knowledge, lifetime HIV testing and sexual risk behaviors in the past six months. Prevalence of HIV and syphilis were determined through serological testing. T-test, χ2 test, and logistic regression were employed for analysis.

Results: A total of 157 participants were recruited. Mean age was 23 years (range: 17-32). Most were aware of how HIV was transmitted (90%). Nearly half believed they were at little or no risk of contracting HIV and 45% had ever tested for HIV. Approximately 60% of participants had more than one sex partner and only 36% consistently used condoms during anal intercourse (AI). Using condoms during last sexual activity did not differ whether the sex partner was regular (70%) or casual (73%). Less frequent risk behaviors included illegal drug use (2.5%), exchanging sex for money (5.7%), group sex (14%) and sex after drinking (24%). Unprotected AI was related to believing it was necessary to use condoms with main sex partners, anxiety over being gay and condom usage during their first sexual activity with a man. Eleven (7.0%) tested positive for syphilis, four (2.6%) were HIV-positive and two (1.3%) had HIV/syphilis co-infections.

Conclusions: HIV is affecting college MSM students, and high-risk sexual behaviors are common. There is also low perceived risk of infection in spite of positive HIV and syphilis cases found. Interventions are needed to explore ways of increasing protective behaviors to curb HIV transmission among college MSM.

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