Background: Sex tourism among men who have sex with men (MSM) may exacerbate transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Sex tourism is defined as purchasing sex with gifts or money outside of one's hometown. Our objective was to characterize the frequency, socio-demographic characteristics, and sexual risk behaviors among Chinese MSM sex tourists.
Methods: An online, cross-sectional survey for high-risk MSM throughout China was conducted in November 2015 covering sociodemographic characteristics, sexual risk behaviors, and sex tourism. Univariate and multivariable logistic regressions were performed to identify correlates of sex tourism. The mean MSM HIV prevalence of sex tourism journey origins and destinations were compared.
Results: Of 1189 MSM who completed the survey, 62 (5%) men identified as sex tourists; among these sex tourists, twenty (32%) traveled primarily to purchase sex and the remainder purchased sex while traveling for another purpose. There was minimal socio-demographic and behavioral difference between the two groups. In multivariable analyses, adjusting for age and income, sex tourism was correlated with high-risk sexual behaviors, higher income (aOR 4.44, 95%CI 1.77-11.18) and living with HIV (aOR 2.79, 95%CI 1.03-7.55). Sex tourism was more often from locations with lower to higher MSM HIV prevalence (mean = 4.47, SD = 2.01 versus mean = 6.86, SD = 5.24).
Conclusion: MSM sex tourists were more likely to have risky sexual behaviors and travel to locations with a higher HIV prevalence. MSM sex tourists may be part of core groups that are disproportionately responsible for MSM HIV transmission. Enhanced surveillance and interventions tailored to MSM sex tourists should be considered.
Keywords: China; HIV/AIDS; Men who have sex with men (MSM); Migration; Sexually transmitted diseases.