in progress

Anticipated HIV Stigma Among HIV Negative Men who have Sex with Men in China: A Cross-Sectional Study

2018

Transplantation or Rurality? Migration and HIV Risk among Chinese Men who have Sex with Men in the Urban Areas. Journal of International AIDS Society. 21(1):e25039.  highlight

“Migrant” is a multi-layer category. The widely used local/migrant categorization obscures important differences in HIV risk present between urban/rural subgroups among them; Previous studies of HIV risks in Chinese “migrant” may have failed to consider the role of structural factors such as discrimination or barriers to healthcare when interpreting their findings of higher HIV prevalence in this population.

Receiving HIV Serostatus Disclosure from Partners Before Sex: Results from an Online Survey of Chinese Men Who Have Sex with Men and Transgender Individuals. AIDS & Behavior. (online first) abstract

HIV serostatus disclosure before sex can facilitate serosorting, condom use and potentially decrease the risk of HIV acquisition. However, few studies have evaluated HIV serostatus disclosure from partners before sex. We examined the rate and correlates of receiving HIV serostatus disclosure from regular and casual male partners before sex among an online sample of men who have sex with men (MSM) in China. An online cross-sectional study was conducted among MSM in eight Chinese cities in July 2016. Participants completed questions covering sociodemographic information, sexual behaviors, HIV testing (including HIV self-testing) history, self-reported HIV status, and post-test violence. In addition, participants were asked whether they received HIV serostatus disclosure from their most recent partners before sex. Overall, 2105 men completed the survey. Among them, 85.9% were never married, and 35.4% had high school or less education. A minority (20.6%, 346/1678; 17.8%, 287/1608) of men received HIV serostatus disclosure from their most recent regular and casual male partners, respectively. Multivariate analysis indicated that participants who ever self-tested for HIV were more likely to have received HIV status disclosure from regular [adjusted OR (aOR) = 1.92, 95% CI 1.50–2.44] and casual (aOR = 2.34, 95% CI 1.80–3.04) male partners compared to never self-tested participants. Compared to participants who had not received HIV status disclosure from regular partners, participants who received disclosure from regular male partners had higher likelihood in experiencing post-test violence (aOR = 5.18, 95% CI 1.53–17.58). Similar results were also found for receiving HIV serostatus disclosure from casual partners.

This study showed that HIV serostatus disclosure from partners was uncommon among Chinese MSM. Interventions and further implementation research to facilitate safe disclosure are urgently needed for MSM.

Sex tourism among Chinese Men who have Sex with Men: A Cross-Sectional Observational Study. BMC Public Health. 18:306. abstract

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.

Condom Use Social Norms and Self-efficacy with Different Kinds of Male Partners among Chinese Men who have Sex with Men: Results from an Online Survey. BMC Public Health. 18:1175. abstract

Background: Social norms and self-efficacy play important roles in promoting consistent condom use among men who have sex with men (MSM). Few studies have investigated the association between social norms, self-efficacy and consistent condom use with different kinds of male partners among MSM. We conducted an online survey of MSM to evaluate this in China.

Method: A cross-sectional online survey was conducted in 2015. Participants completed a validated questionnaire covering socio-demographic information, consistent condom use, condom use social norms and self-efficacy. Eligible participants were 16 or older, born biologically as a male, engaged in anal sex with a man at least once during their lifetime, engaged in condomless anal or vaginal sex in the last three months. In this study, we further restricted to people who had sex with male partners in the last three months. Participants were classified into three groups: engaged in sex only with regular partners, engaged in sex only with casual partners and engaged in sex with both regular partners and casual partners.

Result: Participants were recruited from 32 provinces in China. Among 1057 participants, 451(42.7%), 217(20.5%), and 389(36.8%) engaged in sex with regular partners only, casual partners only and both types in the last three months, respectively. Men engaged in sex only with regular partners in the last three months had a higher condom use self-efficacy than with other two types of partners (P < 0.01). Both social norms (regular partners: adjusted OR:1.59, 95% CI: 0.97–2.60; casual partners: adjusted OR: 1.58, 95% CI: 1.19–2.09; both types: adjusted OR: 1.48, 95% CI: 1.13–1.95) and self-efficacy (regular partners: adjusted OR: 2.88, 95% CI: 1.59–5.22; casual partners: adjusted OR: 2.35, 95% CI: 1.69–3.26; both types: adjusted OR: 2.45, 95% CI: 1.81–3.32) were positively associated with consistent condom use. No interaction effect was detected between condom social norms and self-efficacy on consistent condom use among Chinese MSM (p > 0.05).

Conclusion:Both social norms and self-efficacy were positively correlated with consistent condom use with any types of partners among Chinese MSM. Tailored interventions that aimed to improve social norms and self-efficacy has the potential to improve overall condom use among Chinese MSM.

Out of the Closet, Into the Clinic: Opportunities for Expanding MSM-Competent Services in ChinaSexual Transmitted Diseases. 45(8): 527–533abstract

Background: Despite the high human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) burden among men who have sex with men (MSM), there is little research on health services provided to MSM in China and other low- and middle-income countries. Discrimination and inadequate services may discourage MSM from seeking health care services. This study examined essential services provided to MSM and health care discrimination among MSM in China.

Method: A nationwide cross-sectional online survey was conducted among MSM who saw a physician in the last 24 months in China. The survey included items on sociodemographic information, HIV testing, experiences from the last physician encounter, and history of perceived health care discrimination. We defined MSM-competent physicians as physicians who asked their patient about having sex with other men, asked about anal sex, and either asked about or recommended HIV testing at the most recent visit.

Finding: Among the 503 participants, 35.0% (176/503) saw an MSM-competent physician. In multivariate analyses, respondents who saw an MSM-competent physician were more likely to be younger (adjusted odds ratio (AOR), 0.87; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.81–0.94), have a primary care physician (AOR, 3.24; 95% CI, 1.85–5.67), and be living with HIV (AOR, 2.01; 95% CI, 1.13–3.56). 61.2% (308/503) of MSM had ever experienced health care discrimination.

Conclusion: Our data suggest that there is variability in the extent to which physicians are meeting the needs of MSM in China. There is an urgent need to evaluate and expand MSM-competent services in China.

The Interaction between HIV Testing Social Norms and Self-efficacy on HIV Testing among Chinese Men who Have Sex with Men: Results from an Online Cross-Sectional Study. BMC Infectious Diseases. 18(1): 541. abstract

BACKGROUND: Increasing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing is critical for HIV control. This study aimed to evaluate the interaction between social norms and self-efficacy on HIV testing among Chinese men who have sex with men (MSM).

METHODS: We conducted an online survey in eight Chinese cities in Shandong and Guangdong Provinces in July 2016. We included participants who were born as a male, at least 16 years old, currently living in one of the designated cities, and had ever engaged in anal sex with a man. We collected information regarding socio-demographics, high-risk behaviors, and history of HIV and other STI testing. We coded sensitivity to social norms using six items asking participants about their perceived social norm regarding HIV testing. We coded HIV testing self-efficacy using a separate six-item scale. We interpreted higher mean scores as higher sensitivity to social norms and higher self-efficacy, respectively. We conducted logistic regressions to evaluate the interaction between self-efficacy and social norms on HIV testing.

RESULTS: A total of 2105 men completed the survey. The mean age of the participants was 25.97 ± 6.42 years. Over four-fifths (85.9%) of participants were unmarried, 22.7% were students, and 64.6% at least had a college degree. 62.5 and 32.6% of participants ever and tested HIV in the last three months, respectively. With respect to uptake of HIV testing in the last three months, the adjusted odds ratio was 1.01(95% CI: 0.96-1.06) for higher sensitivity to social norms and 1.09 (95% CI: 1.05-1.14) for higher self-efficacy, with an interaction effect of 1.02 (95% CI: 1.01-1.03), respectively. With respect to uptake of lifetime HIV testing, the adjusted odds ratio was 1.03(95% CI: 0.99-1.07) for higher sensitivity to social norms and 1.15 (95% CI: 1.11-1.19) for higher self-efficacy, with an interaction effect of 1.02 (95% CI: 1.01-1.04), respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Our survey demonstrated that there is a significant association between the uptake of HIV testing with sensitivity to the social norm, higher self-efficacy, as well as the interaction between them. Tailored studies for improving HIV testing among MSM in China can combine these two interventions together. 

2017

Community Engagement in Sexual Health and Uptake of HIV Testing and Syphilis Testing among MSM in China: A Cross-sectional Online SurveyJournal of the International AIDS Society. 20(1):21372. abstract

Introduction: HIV and syphilis testing rates remain low among men who have sex with men (MSM) in low‐ and middle‐income countries (LMICs). Community engagement has been increasingly used to promote HIV testing among key populations in high‐income countries, often in settings with stronger civil society. This study aimed to assess socio‐demographic, behavioural, and community engagement factors associated with HIV and syphilis testing among MSM in China.

Methods: MSM ≥16 years old who had condomless sex in the past three months were recruited nationwide to complete a cross‐sectional online survey in November 2015. Data were collected on socio‐demographics, sexual behaviours, HIV testing, syphilis testing, and community engagement in sexual health. We defined community engagement in sexual health using six items assessing awareness and advocacy of sexual health programmes. The underlying factor structure of a 6‐item community engagement scale was determined through exploratory factor analysis. Univariate and multivariable logistic regressions identified correlates of HIV and syphilis testing.

Results: 1189 MSM were recruited. 54% (647/1189) of men had ever tested for HIV and 30% (354/1189) had ever tested for syphilis. Factor analysis suggested three levels of community engagement (minimal, moderate, and substantial) and this model explained 79.5% of observed variance. A quarter (26%, 312/1189) reported none to minimal engagement, over one half (54%, 644/1189) reported moderate engagement, and a fifth (20%, 233/1189) reported substantial engagement. Multivariable logistic regression showed that MSM with greater community engagement in sexual health were more likely to have ever tested for HIV (substantial vs. no engagement: aOR 7.91, 95% CI 4.98–12.57) and for syphilis (substantial vs. no engagement: aOR 5.35, 95% CI 3.16–9.04).

Conclusions: HIV and syphilis testing are suboptimal among MSM in China. Community engagement may be useful for promoting testing in China and should be considered in intervention development and delivery. Further research is needed to better understand the role of LMIC community engagement in HIV interventions.

    Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medical Cures for HIV: Rationale and Implications for HIV Cure ResearchGlobal Public Health. 2017. abstract

    Traditional, complementary, and alternative medicine (TCAM) has been used by some people living with HIV (PLHIV) in an attempt to cure HIV. This article reviews the main factors influencing their decision to choose TCAM to cure HIV and discusses implications for HIV cure research. Those who decide to pursue traditional, complementary, and alternative medical cures may be influenced by the health system, cultural, and social dynamics, and their own individual beliefs and preferences. These same factors may impact participation in HIV cure research. People who search for traditional, complementary, and alternative medical cures may face special challenges as they are recruited, consented, and retained within HIV cure research studies. To address these potential challenges, we have suggested solutions focusing on culturally tailored communication and education, formative social science research, and community partnerships with key stakeholders. The social conditions that have promoted traditional, complementary and alternative medical cures will likely impact how PLHIV participate and experience HIV remission trials. Despite the potential challenges, it will be crucial to involve those who have previously sought out traditional cures for HIV in HIV cure research.

      Disclosure of Sexual Orientation to Health Professionals in China: Results from an Online Cross-Sectional StudyJournal of the International AIDS Society, 20(1), 21416. abstract

      Background: Many men who have sex with men (MSM) in China are “in the closet.” The low rate of disclosure may impact sexual behaviours, testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and diseases transmission. This study examines factors associated with overall sexual orientation disclosure and disclosure to healthcare professionals.

      Methods: A nationwide cross‐sectional online survey was conducted from September 2014 to October 2014 in China. Participants completed questions covering socio‐demographic information, sexual behaviours, HIV/STI testing history, and self‐reported HIV status. We defined healthcare professional disclosure as disclosing to a doctor or other medical provider.

      Results: A total of 1819 men started the survey and 1424 (78.3%) completed it. Among the 1424 participants, 62.2% (886/1424) reported overall disclosure, and 16.3% (232/1424) disclosed to healthcare professionals. In multivariate analyses, the odds of sexual orientation disclosure were 56% higher among MSM who used smartphone‐based, sex‐seeking applications [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 1.56, 95% CI: 1.25–2.95], but were lower among MSM reporting sex while drunk or recreational drug use. The odds of disclosure to a healthcare professional were greater among MSM who had ever tested for HIV or STIs (aOR = 3.36, 95% CI: 2.50–4.51 for HIV, and aOR = 4.92, 95% CI: 3.47–6.96 for STIs, respectively) or self‐reported as living with HIV (aOR = 1.59, 95% CI: 0.93–2.72).

      Conclusion: Over 80% of MSM had not disclosed their sexual orientation to health professionals. This low level of disclosure likely represents a major obstacle to serving the unique needs of MSM in clinical settings. Further research and interventions to facilitate MSM sexual orientation disclosure, especially to health professionals, are urgently needed.

        2015

        Physician Perceptions of HIV Cure in China: A Mixed Methods Review and Implications for HIV Cure ResearchAsian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease5(9), 687-690. abstract

        There are over 100 clinical trials worldwide focused on developing an HIV cure. Research participants will assume substantial individual risks while receiving little or no individual benefit. Physicians will have important dual roles of leading HIV cure research studies and guiding patient expectations. Many low and middle-income nations have started HIV cure trials, including China. The goal of this study was to better understand physician attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions of HIV cure research within the context of China. We conducted a quantitative and qualitative evidence review of published literature on physician perceptions of HIV cure in China. Quantitative survey data revealed that physicians rarely believed HIV was curable, but this perception may be more common compared to other countries. Qualitative data showed that inconsistent terminology used among physicians may contribute to the perception of HIV as curable. The belief that HIV is curable among some physicians in China may be related to the influence of traditional Chinese medicine beliefs. Rather than seeking elimination of pathogens, traditional Chinese medicine aims to achieve harmony between organs and a vital life force. In this context, HIV infection can be seen as a temporary state of imbalance rather than an irreversible change. There is a wide range of physician perceptions about HIV cure in China. Conflicting information about HIV cure from physicians and other sources could thwart the progress of HIV cure research. Enhancing patient-physician communication about ongoing HIV cure research trials will be important for developing an HIV cure.

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