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Men who have sex with men and women in Bangalore, South India, and potential impact on the HIV epidemic


Objective The aim of this study was to quantify differences in patterns of sexual behaviour among men who have sex with men and women (MSMW) compared with men who have sex with men only (MSMO), and to examine the extent to which bisexual behaviour may act as a bridge for introducing HIV infection into the general population.

Methods A cross-sectional survey in Bangalore city in 2006, which sampled men seeking sex with men in public places and hammams (bath houses where transgender individuals sell sex to men).

Results Among a sample of 357 men reporting same-sex behaviour; 41% also reported sex with a woman in the past year and 14% were currently married to a woman, only two of whom had informed their wives about having sex with men. Condom use was very inconsistent with all male partners, while 98% reported unprotected vaginal sex with their wives. MSMW reported lower rates of risky behaviour with other men than MSMO: fewer reported selling sex (17% vs 58%), or receptive anal sex with known (28% vs 70%) or unknown (30% vs 59%) non-commercial partners.

Conclusion Bisexual behaviour was common among men seeking sex with men sampled in this survey. Although MSMW reported lower rates of risky sexual behaviour with male partners than MSMO, inconsistent condom use with both male and female partners indicates a potential means of HIV transmission into the general population. HIV prevention programmes and services should reach bisexual men who potentially expose their male and female partners to HIV.

  • Bisexuality
  • bridging behaviour
  • HIV
  • homosexuality
  • India
  • men who have sex with men

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