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Burden of HIV and Syphilis: A Comparative Evaluation between Male Sex Workers and Non-Sex-Worker Men Who Have Sex with Men in Urban China.



The increasing burden of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV and syphilis among male sex workers (MSWs) is a major global concern. The aim of our study was to evaluate the difference between MSWs and non-commercial MSMs in China.


During 2008-09, in a cross-sectional study, 2618 adult MSM were recruited through respondent-driven and snowball sampling from seven cities of China. Information regarding socio-demographics, risk behaviors, HIV-related knowledge and STI-related symptoms were collected and participants were tested for HIV and syphilis.


Among 2618 participating MSM, 9.97% sold sex to males. HIV prevalence was 7.45% (6.13% among MSWs and 7.59% among non-MSW MSM) and syphilis prevalence was 14.32% (10.73% for MSWs and 14.72% for non-MSW MSM). Compared to non-MSW MSM, MSWs were more likely to be younger (adjusted odds ratio: aOR = 0.91, 95% confidence interval: 95%CI=0.88-0.93), never married (aOR = 4.38, 95% CI = 2.38-6.80), less educated, heterosexual (aOR = 13.04, 95% CI = 6.08-27.95), less knowledgeable regarding HIV (aOR = 0.70, 95% CI=0.51-0.96), experiencing symptoms of STI (aOR = 2.16, 95% CI = 1.47-3.19), engaging in condomless vaginal intercourse (aOR = 2.16, 95% CI = 1.47-3.19) and less likely to engage in condomless anal intercourse (aOR = 0.62, 95% CI = 0.46-0.85).


High HIV and syphilis prevalence warranted urgent intervention targeting MSWs as a separate sentinel group for efficient surveillance owing to their different distribution from non-MSW MSM. Although male sex workers and non-commercial homosexuals have similar rates of HIV and syphilis, MSWs have different characteristics which should be considered in designing intervention programs targeting them.

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