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High Levels of Unprotected Sex With Men and Women among Men Who Have Sex With Men: A Potential Bridge of HIV Transmission in Beijing, China

China is experiencing an emerging HIV epidemic among men who have sex with men (MSM). We investigated sexual risk, risk perception, HIV and condom knowledge, and utilization of prevention services in the first large sample of MSM recruited in Beijing. Four hundred eighty-two MSM were sampled from September 2001 to January 2002. Forty-nine percent of participants reported unprotected anal intercourse with men during the previous 6 months. However, only 15%perceived they are at risk for HIV and many had misconceptions about HIV transmission routes and limited knowledge about condoms. Less than one quarter obtained free condoms (24%) and condom lubricants (19%) in the past 2 years. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed that unprotected insertive anal intercourse was associated with not having a Beijing residence card, having six or more male sexual partners, not having sex with women, having a lifetime history of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and having never tested for HIV. Unprotected receptive anal intercourse was independently associated with having six or more male sexual partners, not having sex with women, having a life-time history of STDs, having never tested for HIV, and having less exposure to HIV prevention services. In addition, 28% reported having sex with both men and women during the previous 6 months, and 11% had unprotected intercourse with both men and women. This finding suggests that MSM are a potential bridge of HIV transmission to heterosexual women (or vice versa) and that addressing the HIV prevention needs of MSM may benefit the wider population.

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