Experiences of and responses to social discrimination among Asian and Pacific Islander gay men: their relationship to HIV risk

AIDS Educ Prev. 2004 Feb;16(1):68-83. doi: 10.1521/aeap.


As the HIV/AIDS epidemic enters its third decade, rates of infection continue to rise in ethnic minority populations. Though the prevalence of HIV among Asian and Pacific Islander (A&PI) gay men remains to be clearly documented, research has shown that these men engage in relatively high rates of HIV risk behavior. The social discrimination that minority gay men experience may impact their HIV risk behavior and mental health (Diaz & Ayala, 2001). This article examines the experiences of and response to social discrimination among A&PI gay men, and their links to HIV risk behaviors. The study analyzes 166 narrative episodes of discrimination, as well as data on HIV risk obtained from in-depth interviews with 23 A&PI gay men. Results showed that A&PI gay men experience types of discrimination across a variety of contexts. Homophobia and anti-immigrant discrimination were linked to confrontation and social network-based responses whereas discrimination based in stereotypes of passivity / submission were linked with self-attribution. A&PI gay men who used confrontational, social network-based or avoidance response types showed less HIV risk than those who did not. Conversely, A&PI gay men who responded to discrimination with self-attribution showed greater HIV risk behaviors. These findings indicate that experiences of social discrimination and responses to discrimination may impact A&PI gay men's well-being and health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anecdotes as Topic
  • Asia / ethnology
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New York
  • Pacific Islands / ethnology
  • Prejudice*
  • Risk-Taking