Background: There is a high prevalence of HIV/syphilis among male sex workers, but no formal study has ever been conducted focusing on male clients of male sex workers (MCM). A detailed investigation was thus called for, to determine the burden and sociobehavioral determinants of HIV and syphilis among these MCM in China.
Methods: As part of a multicenter cross-sectional study, using respondent-driven and snowball sampling, 2958 consenting adult men who have sex with men (MSM) were recruited, interviewed, and tested for HIV and syphilis between 2008 and 2009. The distributions of sociodemographic characteristics, risk behaviors, and HIV/syphilis prevalence were determined and compared between MCM and other MSM.
Results: Among recruited MSM, 5.0% (n = 148) were MCM. HIV prevalences for MCM and other MSM were 7.4% and 7.7%, whereas 18.9% and 14.0% were positive for syphilis, respectively. Condomless anal intercourse (CAI) was reported by 59.5% of MCM and 48.2% of MSM. Multiple logistic regression revealed that compared with other MSM, MCM were more likely to have less education [for ≤ elementary level, adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 3.13, 95% confidence interval (95% CI): 1.42 to 6.90], higher income (for >500 US Dollars per month, aOR = 2.97, 95% CI: 1.53 to 5.77), more often found partners at parks/restrooms (aOR = 4.01, 95% CI: 2.34 to 6.85), reported CAI (aOR = 1.49, 95% CI: 1.05 to 2.10), reported a larger sexual network (for ≥ 10, aOR = 2.70, 95% CI: 1.44 to 5.07), and higher odds of syphilis (aOR = 1.54, 95% CI: 1.00 to 2.38).
Conclusions: The greater frequency of risk behaviors and high prevalence of HIV and syphilis indicated that HIV/syphilis prevention programs in China need to pay special attention to MCM as a distinct subgroup, which was completely ignored until date.