Objective: To explore differences in demographic characteristies, risk practices, and preventive behaviors among subgroups of men who have sex with men (MSM), including gay- and non-gay-identified MSM, MSM who inject drugs, and those engaging in sex hustling.
Design: A secondary analysis of cross-sectional data collected through interviewer-administered questionnaires in a purposive sample of MSM.
Setting: Gay bars, bath houses, adult video arcades, and out-door crusing areas in Denver and Long Beach.
Participants: Men who reported oral or anal sex with another man in the past year with oversampling of non-gay-identified MSM.
Results: Of 1,290 MSM, 417 (32%) did not gay-identify, 86 (7%) were drug injectors, and 117 (9%) were hustlers. Of drug-injecting MSM, 55% reported sex hustling and 40% of hustlers reported injection drug use. Hustling was associated with higher number of partners, more frequent anal sex with men and women, and less frequent condom use during anal sex with occasional male partners. Hustlers and drug-injecting MSM used condoms less consistently during vaginal intercourse with female partners than did other MSM.
Conclusions: Among MSM, subgroups at particularly high risk for HIV can be identified. Although these subgroups may be relatively small, they may be important epidemiologic links to the larger MSM and heterosexual communities and warrant focused behavioral interventions to prevent the further spread of HIV.
PIP: With HIV incidence rates as high as 0.7-2.4% per year, men who have sex with men (MSM) accounted for half of all AIDS cases and 43% of non-AIDS HIV cases among men reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1996. Subgroups of MSM who are at particular risk of HIV infection, such as MSM who inject drugs, MSM who have sex in exchange for money or drugs (hustlers), and non-gay-identified MSM, may be less likely to be reached by HIV/AIDS prevention messages targeted at the broader MSM community. Sex behavior-related data were collected from 1290 MSM recruited in Denver and Long Beach from gay bars and bath houses, adult video arcades, and outdoor cruising areas between September 1993 and June 1994. The 531 MSM sampled in Denver and 759 in Long Beach reported having had sex with a man during the preceding year. 417 (32%) were non-gay-identified, 86 (7%) had injected drugs in the past 6 months, and 117 (9%) had exchanged sex for drugs or money. 10% of non-gay-identified men identified themselves as being straight. Of drug-injecting MSM and hustlers, 19% and 13%, respectively, were straight-identified. Detailed information on HIV testing and serostatus, number of partners, and sex practices, including condom use, was available for the 482 men who had reported anal or oral sex with a man or who had injected drugs in the past 30 days. 55% of drug-injecting MSM reported sex hustling and 40% of hustlers reported IV drug use. Hustling was associated with a higher number of sex partners, more frequent anal sex with men and women, and less frequent condom use during anal sex with occasional male partners. Hustlers and drug-injecting MSM used condoms less consistently during vaginal intercourse with female partners than did other MSM.