7th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2013)

Abstract

WEPE538 - Poster Exhibition


Characteristics and sexual risk behaviours of men who have sex with men (MSM) who use cell phones and Internet to seek male sexual partners in Chennai, India

M. Shanmugam1, M. McInnis2, R. Nelson1, V. Chakrapani1, T. Kershaw2

1Centre for Sexuality and Health Research and Policy (C-SHaRP), Chennai, India, 2Yale School of Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, United States

Background: In India, HIV prevention interventions among MSM typically involve outreach at cruising sites. However, the increasing use of cell phones and the Internet may be shifting the way MSM are meeting sex partners. We examined the extent of use of cell phones and Internet among MSM to seek male sexual partners and their characteristics.
Methods: Between August and September 2011, a survey was conducted on mental health and risk behaviours of MSM accessing the cruising sites and drop-in centres of two community-based organizations in Chennai. We analysed the socio-demographic and other characteristics of MSM who reported using cell phones and/or Internet, and condom use in anal sex.
Results: ParticipantsĀ“ (n=154) age ranged from 19 to 60 years (Mean: 32.1). About four-fifth (81.8%; n=126/154) reported having used a cell phone and one-tenth (12%; n=20/154) have used Internet (chat rooms/social-dating network). The type of technology reported by MSM (n=128) to seek male sexual partners were: cell phone-96.8% (n=124/128); chat room-10.1% (n=13/128); social-dating network-4.6% (n=6/128). Among MSM who reported using Internet and/or cell phone to seek sexual partners, 70% (n=90/128) are less than 35 years and had completed high school; nearly half (n=63/128) identified as kothis (feminine/receptive), 20% (n=25/128) as double-deckers (insertive/receptive), and 14% (n=18/128) as bisexual; and 12% (n=15/128) self-reported as HIV-positive. Among those who reported having ever had anal sex, about one-fifth (21%; n=27/126) did not use condom in the last anal sex; 85% of these MSM who did not use condoms (n=23/27) used cell phones and/or Internet to seek partners.
Conclusion: A high proportion of MSM use cell phone and Internet to seek male sexual partners, thus introducing avenues for cell phone/Internet-based outreach and educational interventions. Further research is needed to understand differences in the sexual risk behaviors of MSM with their male sexual partners who are met through cell phone/Internet versus traditional cruising sites.

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