, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 99-110
Date: 05 May 2013

Associations Between Perceived Characteristics of the Peer Social Network Involving Significant Others and Risk of HIV Transmission Among Men Who Have Sex with Men in China

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The HIV epidemic among men who have sex with men (MSM) in China is severe. Peer can induce risky and preventive behaviors among MSM. We interviewed 220 MSM who had at least one significant other who was a peer MSM (SOPM). Interviews were conducted at two gay venues in Suzhou, China, which reported five HIV-related outcomes: HIV (8.2 %), syphilis (16.4 %), self-reported sexually transmitted infection symptoms (14.6 %), unprotected anal intercourse (UAI; 58.6 %) and having had taken up HIV testing (40.4 %). Adjusting for significant background variables, participants’ perceived characteristics of the social network of SOPM, such as practicing risk behavior (e.g. UAI) or preventive behaviors (e.g. HIV antibody testing), or possessing HIV-related perceptions (e.g. dislike in condom use), were significantly associated with some of the five aforementioned outcomes (p < 0.05). Peer education and peer-based interventions involving significant others are hence potentially important in HIV prevention targeting MSM. Future pilot intervention studies are warranted.

C. Hao and J. T. F. Lau contributed equally to this study.