AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 1899–1907 | Cite as

The Associations of Perceived Social Support with Key HIV Risk and Protective Factors Among Young Males Who Have Sex with Males in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand

  • Lisa Johnston
  • Mara Steinhaus
  • Justine Sass
  • Patchara Benjarattanaporn
  • Petchsri Sirinirund
  • Taweesap Siraprapasiri
  • Robert Gass
Original Paper


This study used respondent-driven sampling to explore the effects of social support on HIV risk and protective factors among young males who have sex with males (YMSM) in Bangkok (N = 273) and Chiang Mai (N = 243), Thailand. It compared different measures of social support, including living situation, the proportion of family and friends to whom the respondent had disclosed their same-sex attraction, and scores on the multi-dimensional scale of perceived social support as predictors of two outcomes of interest—coerced first sex and HIV knowledge. Social support from family played a mediating role in both outcomes among YMSM in Bangkok but not those from Chiang Mai. Though social support from friends was also studied, it was less strongly associated with the outcomes of interest. The findings support interventions designed to leverage social support networks to increase HIV knowledge and decrease coerced first sex among YMSM. At the same time, they demonstrate that there is not a single risk or demographic profile encompassing all YMSM. Successful programs and policies will need to consider the specific attributes and social environment of YMSM in particular locations in order to effectively address HIV risks.


Social support Youth Adolescents HIV Coerced sex Forced sex Males who have sex with males Thailand 



The authors would like to thank the study participants and data collectors.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

There are no conflicts of interest for any of the authors.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa Johnston
    • 1
  • Mara Steinhaus
    • 1
    • 6
  • Justine Sass
    • 2
  • Patchara Benjarattanaporn
    • 3
  • Petchsri Sirinirund
    • 4
  • Taweesap Siraprapasiri
    • 4
  • Robert Gass
    • 5
  1. 1.Independent Consultant-UNICEF Thailand OfficeBangkokThailand
  2. 2.UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for EducationBangkokThailand
  3. 3.Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDSBangkokThailand
  4. 4.Department of Disease ControlMinistry of Public HealthNonthaburiThailand
  5. 5.UNICEF Thailand OfficeBangkokThailand
  6. 6.WashingtonUSA

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