Successful Stories from API MSM about Prevention Strategies

Tooru Nemoto, Public Health Institute, Oakland
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Thematic Priority Area: HIV-Related Disparities in Highly Impacted, Under-researched Populations
Innovative, Developmental, Exploratory Award (IDEA)

The estimated number of AIDS cases and HIV infection rates among Asian and Pacific Islander (API) men who have sex with men (MSM) are lower than those of other racial/ethnic groups in the US. Studies in HIV risk behaviors reported the infection rates for API MSM ranging from 0.0% to 28%. Some researchers and policy advocates are arguing that although these levels are low now, it is only a matter of time for these rates to rise to levels comparable to other racial/ethnic groups. Recent studies have revealed that API MSM engage in sexual risk behaviors at similar or higher rates than other groups. The discrepancies between the reported HIV infection rates and high HIV risk behaviors among API MSM led us to investigate culturally specific protective factors and strategies among API MSM that may protect against HIV infection. We also think that previous studies based on the existing HIV prevention models might have overlooked culturally specific factors and strategies used by API MSM. We will explore and describe culturally specific factors and strategies which may protect API MSM from being infected with HIV based on conducting focus groups and the Internet survey. Integration of findings from focus groups and the Internet survey will enable us to examine HIV prevention models for API MSM which will be used for future HIV prevention intervention studies. The Internet survey has a number of advantages for a study targeting API MSM: 1) A large sample size, 2) High accessibility among API MSM, particularly those sexually active and who use or abuse the Internet to meet casual sex partners, 3) Accessibility to those who are closeted and/or do not come to gay venues and AIDS Service Organizations (ASOs), and 4) Anonymity to protect gay identity in their family and community, which many API MSM are concerned about.

Specific Aims:

  1. Describe and understand prevention strategies against HIV/STIs among API MSM in relation to API culture, setting and types of sex partners, the Internet use, environment/geographic location of residency in California, access to and utilization of HIV prevention programs, and background variables.
  2. Describe and understand the pre-conceptualized protective factors against HIV/STIs among API MSM (e.g., social support, community involvement, collective self-esteem, and interdependence) and explore other protective factors in relation to substance use and HIV risk behaviors based on qualitative and quantitative methods.
  3. Integrate qualitative and quantitative findings and examine HIV prevention models for API MSM which will be used to develop HIV prevention intervention studies in the future.
  4. Disseminate study findings to API MSM community members and ASOs in California based on the networks being developed during the study period and through the Internet and professional meetings and publications.