Sex Transm Infect 87:325-330 doi:10.1136/sti.2010.046409
  • Behaviour

Central and East European migrant men who have sex with men: an exploration of sexual risk in the UK

  1. Fiona M Burns1
  1. 1Centre for Sexual Health and HIV Research, Research Department of Infection and Population Health, University College London, London, UK
  2. 2The School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, London, UK
  3. 3The Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, University of Kwazulu-Natal, Mtubatuba, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Dr Fiona Burns, UCL Centre for Sexual Health and HIV Research, Mortimer Market Centre, Off Capper Street, London WC1E 6JB, UK; f.burns{at}
  1. Contributors FMB, CHM, CJG, RM, JI and GJH participated in the design of this study. ARE, VP and FMB were responsible for study coordination and data collection. ARE conducted the statistical analysis and was the lead writer of this paper. All authors have contributed to the drafting of the manuscript and have seen and approved the final version.

  • Accepted 31 October 2010
  • Published Online First 8 December 2010


Background Since May 2004, 10 central and east European (CEE) countries have joined the European Union. While HIV rates remain low among men who have sex with men (MSM) in CEE countries, there is no research on the sexual behaviour of CEE MSM in the UK.

Methods CEE MSM living in the UK (n=691) were recruited for an online questionnaire by two popular MSM websites.

Results The majority of men had arrived in the UK since May 2004. A previous sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnosis was reported by 30.7%, and 4.8% reported being HIV positive, the majority diagnosed in the UK. Unprotected anal intercourse with a casual partner of unknown or discordant HIV status was reported by 22.8%. Men who had been in the UK for longer (>5 years vs <1 year) reported more partners in the past 5 years (67.2% vs 50.4% had >10 partners, p<0.001) and were less likely to report their most recent partner was from their home country (14.9% vs 33.6%, p<0.001). Among migrant CEE MSM living in London, 15.4% had been paid for sex in the UK and 41.5% had taken recreational drugs in the past year.

Conclusion CEE MSM in the UK are at risk for the acquisition and transmission of STI and HIV through unprotected anal intercourse with non-concordant casual partners. Sexual mixing with men from other countries, commercial sex and increased partner numbers may introduce additional risk. This has important implications for the cross-border transmission of infections between the UK and CEE countries.


  • Linked articles 046839, 047209.

  • Funding This study was supported by the MRC Sexual Health and HIV Research Strategy Committee and the North Central London Research Consortium (NoCLoR) grant enhancement fund. The sponsors of the study had no role in the study design, collection, analysis or interpretation of the data, the writing of the report or the decision to submit the paper for publication.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Camden and Islington Community Research Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.