Public health challenges of the emerging HIV epidemic among men who have sex with men in China.

Published: May 1, 2011

Abstract

A large-scale national survey was conducted in 2008 across 61 cities throughout China, covering over 18,000 men who have sex with men (MSM). The prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was 4.9% and incidence ranged from 2.6 to 5.4 per 100 person-years. The prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases ranged from 2.0% to 29.9% among MSM in different parts of China. Syphilis status, recruitment of sexual partners mainly from gay saunas, duration of MSM experience, and unprotected sex with regular male sex partners and multiple male sex partners predicted HIV seroconversion. The prevalence of consistent condom use was low during anal sex, ranging from 29.4% to 37.3%. Within this context, this paper considers the factors surrounding HIV prevention activity, and identifies a number of public health challenges which need to be considered if optimum outcomes are to be achieved. HIV prevention targeting MSM is a delayed response. The high risk associated with gay saunas and the need for steady condom supply at these venues needs urgent consideration. In addition, approximately one-third of MSM in China reported bisexual behavior, which may be attributed to sociocultural reasons and stigma against MSM. Female sex partners of MSM are seldom aware of their exposure to high risk of HIV transmission. Finally, the primitive nature of non-government organizations for HIV prevention and issues around their sustainability pose another serious challenge for the future of HIV prevention campaigns targeting MSM in China.

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