Introduction Young men who have sex with men (YMSM) are experiencing stigma and discrimination (S and D) resulting in social exclusion with adverse consequences. Therefore, a study was conducted among YMSM in two large cities of Myanmar in 2014 with the objective of determining the pattern of S and D experienced by YMSM.
Methods A cross-sectional study was conducted by using quantitative and qualitative research methods. Respondent driven sampling was applied to recruit YMSM. Face-to-face interviews were done by using a structured questionnaire and in-depth interviews were also done with YMSM.
Results A total of 400 YMSM (200 each in Yangon and Monywa) included in the study. Their age ranged from 18–26 years with the median age of 22. Over 42% self-identified as Apwint (feminine). Most YMSM (55.8% and 69.6%) reported having a regular job, but a higher percentage in Monywa reported an estimated monthly income of >100,000 Kyats compared to YMSM in Yangon (p<0.01). Around half (48.2% and 51.5%) reported ever experiencing discrimination because of their same sex attraction. Among those who experienced discrimination, 60% in Yangon and 53% in Monywa reported experiencing discrimination exhibited as insults/verbal abuse and (34% and 37%) reported discrimination exhibited as physical abuse or beating. Seventy percent of YMSM reported experiencing discrimination most often in public places. The largest percentages of YMSM who reported ever experiencing discrimination, were among Apwint (64% and 50%). “Exclusion from social occasion” and “beating” were indicated as the worst type of discrimination by the many YMSM in Yangon (40% vs. 15%, p<0.01) and Monywa (47% vs. 27%, p>0.05). Some YMSM stated that they are experiencing S and D even among the family members and sometimes at health care settings resulting in delayed seeking care. They thought that people would not discriminate them if they become famous and could earn much money.
Conclusion S and D still existed towards YMSM especially in public places. Community awareness raising programs should be strengthened to reduce S and D towards YMSM.
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