Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Understanding male sexual behaviour in planning HIV prevention programmes: lessons from Laos, a low prevalence country
  1. M J Toole1,
  2. B Coghlan1,
  3. A Xeuatvongsa2,
  4. W R Holmes1,
  5. S Pheualavong3,
  6. N Chanlivong3
  1. 1Macfarlane Burnet Institute for Medical Research and Public Health, Melbourne, Australia
  2. 2Key Centre for Women’s Health in Society, University of Melbourne, Australia
  3. 3Macfarlane Burnet Institute for Medical Research and Public Health, Vientiane, Laos
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Michael J Toole
 Burnet Institute, GPO Box 2284, Melbourne 3001, Australia; toole{at}


Methods: Focus group discussions were conducted with a range of young men in Vientiane, Laos; interviews were conducted with male sex workers. A questionnaire survey was conducted with a purposive sample of 800 young men.

Results: Most young men initiate sex at an early age and have multiple sex partners. Married men are more likely to pay for sex and most sex for money is negotiated in non-brothel settings. Despite high reported condom use for last intercourse with a casual partner, decisions on condom use are subjective. Many men have extramarital sex when their partner is pregnant and post partum. 18.5% of men report having had sex with another man; most of these men also report having sex with women. Moreover, more men report having had anal sex with a woman than with a man.

Conclusions: Although not a probability sample survey, this study of a broad range of young men in Vientiane reveals sexual behaviours that could lead to accelerated HIV transmission. Education should emphasise the need to use condoms in all sexual encounters outside the primary relationship. This needs special emphasis when the partner is pregnant or post partum. Advice on safe sex with other men needs to be integrated into all sexual health education for young men.

  • FGD, focus group discussion
  • STI, sexually transmitted infections
  • HIV prevention
  • young men
  • Laos
  • sex in pregnancy
  • men who have sex with men

Statistics from


  • Funding for the study was provided by the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.

  • Conflicts of interest: The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest associated with this study.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.