Accessing HIV testing and treatment among men who have sex with men in China: a qualitative study

AIDS Care. 2014;26(3):372-8. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2013.824538. Epub 2013 Aug 2.


Barriers to HIV testing and HIV care and treatment pose significant challenges to HIV prevention among men who have sex with men (MSM) in China. We carried out a qualitative study to identify barriers and facilitators to HIV testing and treatment among Chinese MSM. In 2012, seven focus group (FG) discussions were conducted with 49 MSM participants in Nanjing, China. Purposive sampling was used to recruit a diverse group of MSM participants. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to collect FG data. Major barriers to testing included gay- and HIV-related stigma and discrimination, relationship type and partner characteristics, low perception of risk or threat, HIV is incurable or equals death, concerns of confidentiality, unaware that testing is offered for free, and name-based testing. Key facilitators of testing included engaging in high-risk sex, sense of responsibility for partner, collectivism, testing as a part of standard/routine medical care, MSM-friendly medical personnel, increased acceptance of gay/bisexual men by the general public, legal recognition and protection of homosexuals, and home self-testing. Barriers to treatment included negative coping, nondisclosure to families, misconceptions of domestically produced antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) and the benefits of treatment, and costs associated with long-term treatment. Facilitators of treatment included sense of hopefulness that a cure would be found, the cultural value of longevity, peer social support and professional psychological counseling, affordable and specialized treatment and care, and reduced HIV-related stigma and discrimination. Finally, for both testing and treatment, more educational and promotional activities within MSM communities and among the general public are needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety
  • Asian People*
  • China / epidemiology
  • Educational Status
  • Focus Groups*
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • HIV Infections / psychology
  • Health Education
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Homosexuality, Male* / ethnology
  • Homosexuality, Male* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Peer Group
  • Qualitative Research
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sexual Partners* / psychology
  • Social Stigma
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires