Bisexual concurrency, bisexual partnerships, and HIV among Southern African men who have sex with men (MSM)

Center for Public Health and Human Rights, Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, E7146, 615 N Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.
Sexually transmitted infections (Impact Factor: 3.4). 08/2010; 86(4):323-7. DOI: 10.1136/sti.2009.040162
Source: PubMed


The sexual behaviour of men who have sex with men (MSM) in southern Africa has been little studied. We present here the first data on bisexual partnerships and bisexual concurrency among MSM in Malawi, Namibia and Botswana.
A cross-sectional probe of a convenience sample of 537 men who have ever reported anal sex with another man using a structured survey instrument and rapid-kit HIV screening.
34.1% of MSM were married or had a stable female partner, and 53.7% reported both male and female sexual partners in the past 6 months. Bisexual concurrency was common, with 16.6% of MSM having concurrent relationships with both a man and a woman. In bivariate analyses, any bisexual partnerships were associated with lower education (OR 1.6, 95% CI 1.1 to 2.3), higher condom use (OR 6.6, 95% CI 3.2 to 13.9), less likelihood of having ever tested for HIV (OR 1.6, 95% CI 1.1 to 2.3), less likelihood of having disclosed sexual orientation to family (OR 0.47, 95% CI 0.32 to 0.67) and being more likely to have received money for casual sex (OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.3 to 2.7). Bisexual concurrency was associated with a higher self-reported condom use (OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.0 to 3.1), being employed (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.2 to 2.9), lower likelihood of disclosure of sexual orientation to family (OR 0.37, 95% CI 0.22 to 0.65) and having paid for sex with men (OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.2 to 3.2).
The majority of MSM in this study report some bisexual partnerships in the previous 6 months. Concurrency with sexual partners of both genders is common. Encouragingly, men reporting any concurrent bisexual activity were more likely to report condom use with sexual partners, and these men were not more likely to have HIV infection than men reporting only male partners. HIV-prevention programmes focussing on decreasing concurrent sexual partners in the African context should also target bisexual concurrency among MSM. Decriminalisation of same-sex practices will potentiate evidence-based HIV-prevention programmes targeting MSM.

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Available from: Eric Umar, Oct 10, 2015
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    • "In our study, MSM who reported no sex with women in the past six months were more likely to be HIV infected than those who had. This is similar to the finding reported in a study of southern African MSM engaging in heterosexual intercourse in the previous six months [22]. The men who report having sex with both men and women in Guangxi may play a role as a bridge of transmitting HIV to their female sex partners, but the risk is lower than among men who are exclusively having sex with men. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Men who have sex with men (MSM) represent the fastest growing key population for incident HIV cases in China. We examined five consecutive years of HIV and syphilis prevalence and risk factors data among MSM in Guangxi Province with the second highest estimated number of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) in China in 2011. Methods We collected demographic and behavioral data from national sentinel surveillance and HIV/syphilis blood samples in five annual cross-sectional surveys from 2008 to 2012. We analyzed HIV and syphilis prevalence trends stratified by social/behavioral characteristics. Results HIV prevalence climbed steadily from 1.7% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.0 to 3.0) in 2008 to 3.7% (95% CI: 3.0 to 5.0) in 2012. Syphilis prevalence increased steadily from 5.1% (95% CI: 4.0 to 6.0) in 2008 to 8.4% (95% CI: 7.0 to 10.0) in 2012. HIV prevalence rose notably among MSM who were ≤25 years of age, never married, did not engage in sexual intercourse with women in the past six months, and had not been tested for HIV in the past year. Syphilis prevalence rose notably among MSM who were >25 years of age, ever married or living with a partner, and engaged in sexual intercourse with women in the past six months. HIV prevalence was much higher in MSM with current syphilis than without. Finally, current syphilis was the most significant predictor of HIV infection, and age was the most significant predictor of syphilis infection. Conclusions HIV and the syphilis prevalence expansion among MSM suggest an urgent public health prevention challenge for Guangxi provincial health officials. Risk factors for each infection differed such that all MSM, each of whom might be at risk of HIV, syphilis or both, should be targets for heavy intervention.
    BMC Infectious Diseases 07/2014; 14(1):367. DOI:10.1186/1471-2334-14-367 · 2.61 Impact Factor
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    • "A research report on MSM risk in Mombasa, Nairobi and Dakar, described inconsistent condom use and multiple concurrent partners as normative behaviors [12]. One study found that men who are bisexual are more likely to use condoms than those who identify as homosexual [13]. Higher risk behavior has also been associated with depression and lower self-efficacy scores among MSM in South Africa[14]. "
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    ABSTRACT: In Uganda, men who have sex with men (MSM) are at high risk for HIV. Between May 2008 and February 2009 in Kampala, Uganda, we used respondent driven sampling (RDS) to recruit 295 MSM≥18 years who reported having had sex with another man in the preceding three months. The parent study conducted HIV and STI testing and collected demographic and HIV-related behavioral data through audio computer-assisted self-administered interviews. We conducted a nested qualitative sub-study with 16 men purposively sampled from among the survey participants based on responses to behavioral variables indicating higher risk for HIV infection. Sub-study participants were interviewed face-to-face. Domains of inquiry included sexual orientation, gender identity, condom use, stigma, discrimination, violence and health seeking behavior. Emergent themes included a description of sexual orientation/gender identity categories. All groups of men described conflicting feelings related to their sexual orientation and contextual issues that do not accept same-sex identities or behaviors and non-normative gender presentation. The emerging domains for facilitating condom use included: lack of trust in partner and fear of HIV infection. We discuss themes in the context of social and policy issues surrounding homosexuality and HIV prevention in Uganda that directly affect men's lives, risk and health-promoting behaviors.
    PLoS ONE 12/2013; 8(12):e82937. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0082937 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    • "Counsellors working in this region face challenges due to social stigma surrounding men who have sex with men's (MSM) behaviour and the fact that homosexual acts remain illegal in 36 African countries [1], [4], [5]. Research undertaken in Kenya and elsewhere indicates that MSM have a higher HIV prevalence than the general population in Africa [1], [6], have high rates of bisexual concurrency [7], may be active in transactional sex, and are particularly vulnerable to HIV acquisition [7]–[11]. Providing counsellors with skills to effectively provide HIV risk reduction messages tailored for MSM is an important public health target. "
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    ABSTRACT: The role of men who have sex with men (MSM) in the African HIV epidemic is gaining recognition yet capacity to address the HIV prevention needs of this group is limited. HIV testing and counselling is not only a critical entry point for biomedical HIV prevention interventions, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis, rectal microbicides and early treatment initiation, but is also an opportunity for focused risk reduction counselling that can support individuals living in difficult circumstances. For prevention efforts to succeed, however, MSM need to access services and they will only do so if these are non-judgmental, informative, focused on their needs, and of clear benefit. This study aimed to understand Kenyan providers' attitudes towards and experiences with counselling MSM in a research clinic targeting this group for HIV prevention. We used in-depth interviews to explore values, attitudes and cognitive and social constructs of 13 counsellors and 3 clinicians providing services to MSM at this clinic. Service providers felt that despite their growing experience, more targeted training would have been helpful to improve their effectiveness in MSM-specific risk reduction counselling. They wanted greater familiarity with MSM in Kenya to better understand the root causes of MSM risk-taking (e.g., poverty, sex work, substance abuse, misconceptions about transmission, stigma, and sexual desire) and felt frustrated at the perceived intractability of some of their clients' issues. In addition, they identified training needs on how to question men about specific risk behaviours, improved strategies for negotiating risk reduction with counselling clients, and improved support supervision from senior counsellors. This paper describes the themes arising from these interviews and makes practical recommendations on training and support supervision systems for nascent MSM HIV prevention programmes in Africa.
    PLoS ONE 06/2013; 8(6):e64527. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0064527 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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