Sexual identity and its contribution to MSM risk behavior in Bangaluru (Bangalore), India: the results of a two-stage cluster sampling survey

J LGBT Health Res. 2008;4(2-3):111-26. doi: 10.1080/15574090902922975.


In India, there are categories of MSM (hijras, kothis, double-deckers, panthis and bisexuals), which are generally associated with different HIV-risk behaviors. Our objective was to quantify differences across MSM identities (n = 357) and assess the extent they conform to typecasts that prevail in policy-orientated discourse. More feminine kothis (26%) and hijras (13%) mostly reported receptive sex, and masculine panthis (15%) and bisexuals (23%) insertive anal sex. However, behavior did not always conform to expectation, with 25% and 16% of the sample reporting both insertive and receptive anal intercourse with known and unknown noncommercial partners, respectively (p < 0.000). Although behavior often complied with stereotyped role and identity, male-with-male sexual practices were fluid. Reification of these categories in an intervention context may hinder our understanding of the differential HIV risk among MSM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Gender Identity*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • Health Surveys
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sex Work / statistics & numerical data
  • Stereotyped Behavior