Objective: To estimate HIV and sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevalence and behavioral risk characteristics of men who have sex with men (MSM) in Chennai, India.
Methods: A cross-sectional population-based random sample survey was conducted in 2001. Randomly selected residents of 30 slums in Chennai were interviewed for behavioral risk factors through face-to-face interviews. Sera and urine were examined for syphilis, HIV-1, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. Logistic regression analyses were used to assess associations between MSM status and HIV infection and to identify risk characteristics of MSM.
Results: Of 774 men, 46 reported (5.9%) sex with other men. MSM were more likely to be seropositive for HIV (odds ratio [OR] = 8.57; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.83, 40.23) and were more likely to have a history of STD (OR = 2.66; 95% CI: 1.18, 6.02) than non-MSM. Men who used illicit drugs in past 3 months (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 4.01; 95% CI: 1.92, 8.41), ever exchanged money for sex (AOR = 3.93; 95% CI: 1.97, 7.84), or were ever tested for HIV (AOR = 3.72; 95% CI: 1.34, 10.34) were significantly more likely to report sex with men.
Conclusions: MSM in Chennai slums are at high risk for HIV. HIV prevention strategies aimed at changing unsafe drug and sexual practices should target the general population of men, with specific attention to areas with high rates of MSM.