Sexual behaviors and risk factors for HIV infection among men who have sex with men in the Dominican Republic

AIDS. 1996 Feb;10(2):201-6. doi: 10.1097/00002030-199602000-00011.


Objective: To describe self-reported types of sexual identity of men who have sex with men (MSM) in the Dominican Republic, assess sociodemographics and behavioral characteristics, and measure the prevalence of HIV-1 and syphilis.

Design: Cross-sectional study of MSM recruited from a variety of community settings.

Methods: A total of 354 men agreed to participate after giving verbal informed consent. Information was obtained using a standardized questionnaire assessing demographics and AIDS-relevant information. Blood was obtained for HIV and syphilis testing.

Results: Five main sexual identity groups emerged: cross dressers, homosexuals, gigolos, bisexuals and heterosexuals. Receptive anal and oral intercourse were commonly reported by men self-identifying as cross dressers or homosexuals, whereas nearly all of the remaining three groups practiced only insertive intercourse. Sexual contact with women was also commonly reported; overall, consistent condom use was infrequent. HIV antibodies were detected in 11.0% and serologic evidence of syphilis was found in 7.3%. Factors independently associated with HIV infection included serologic evidence of syphilis, having visited at least one of four local brothels in 1975-1985, and having had receptive anal intercourse with four or more partners in the last 12 months.

Conclusions: Syphilis, sexual practices and social context of sex (commercial sex), rather than sexual identity per se, were associated with HIV infection. The complex social networks of MSM in this setting, the tendency to practice either insertive or receptive sex, but not both, infrequent condom use, high rates of syphilis and the frequency of sex with women need to be taken into account for targeted HIV prevention programs to be successful.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Dominican Republic / epidemiology
  • Female
  • HIV Antibodies / blood
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV-1*
  • Homosexuality, Male*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Behavior / classification*
  • Syphilis / epidemiology


  • HIV Antibodies