Sexual health status of women who have regular sexual relations with men who have sex with men in mainland China

BMC Public Health. 2017 Feb 6;17(1):168. doi: 10.1186/s12889-017-4096-z.


Background: Men who have sex with men (MSM) are a high-risk group for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. In China, the vast majority of MSM feel forced to marry or plan to marry women, according to traditional Chinese culture. Women who have regular sexual relations with MSM, called tongqi in mainland China, live with a high risk of STDs or HIV infection, but these risks are often ignored. Our investigation of this group of the women is a preliminary study that aims to understand the sexual health problems of tongqi and related factors.

Methods: This study relied on website mobilization and was funded by tongqi. Participants were limited to women who had sex with MSM to whom they were married (in-GWs), whom they had divorced (ex-GWs), or with whom they were friends (GGFs). The data were collected using questionnaire software.

Results: A total 144 valid surveys were returned from 100 in-GWs, 33 ex-GWs, and 11 GGFs. Average respondent age was 32.8 ± 6.4 years (range 22 to 58 years). Among in-GWs and ex-GWs, over 95% learned that their husbands were MSM after marriage. More than half of respondents had had sex before marriage, and one-third of those women had sex partners other than their husbands. In addition, 35.3% of tongqi had STDs symptoms. About 50% participants had had oral sex with sex partners of MSM and 10% had had passive anal sex, with low condom use during both oral (9.7%) and anal sex (23.1%). Most tongqi had misunderstandings about STDs and HIV and less than 30% had undergone HIV screening. Among participants tested, 5.6% were HIV positive. A total 93.5% of respondents believed that laws should be established to protect the sexual rights of women.

Conclusions: Women who have regular sexual relations with MSM face adverse sexual health issues and are susceptible to STDs and HIV infection. Measures must be taken to protect the rights and interests of tongqi in mainland China.

Keywords: Mainland China; Men who have sex with men; Regular sex partner; Sexual health status; Women.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • China / epidemiology
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • Health Surveys / statistics & numerical data*
  • Homosexuality, Male*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marriage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexual Partners*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control
  • Young Adult