Many men who have sex with men (MSM) in low and middle income countries search for male sexual partners via social media in part due to societal stigma and discrimination, yet little is known about the sexual risk profiles of MSM social media users. This cross-sectional study investigates the prevalence of social media use to find male sex partners in Hanoi, Vietnam and examines associations between social media use and sociodemographic and behavioral characteristics, including levels of internalized, perceived and enacted stigma, high-risk sexual behaviors, and HIV testing. 205 MSM were recruited from public venues where MSM congregate as well as through snowball sampling and completed an anonymous survey. MSM who found their male sexual partners using social media in the last year were more likely to have completed a university or higher degree (aOR 2.6; 95% CI 1.2-5.7), experience high levels of MSM-related perceived stigma (aOR 3.0; 95% CI 1.1-8.0), and have more than ten lifetime male sexual partners (aOR 3.2; 95% CI 1.3-7.6) compared to those who did not use social media. A niche for social media-based interventions integrating health and stigma-reduction strategies exists in HIV prevention programs for MSM.
Keywords: HIV; Men who have sex with men; Sex partners; Social media; Vietnam.