Demographic and attitudinal variables related to high-risk behaviors in Asian males who have sex with other men.
- Author(s): Shapiro, J
- Vives, G
- et al.
Although AIDS is spreading rapidly in minority communities, little is known about attitudes, knowledge, and behavior related to AIDS and HIV in the Asian community. The purpose of this study was to examine these variables in a sample of gay Asian males, as well as to investigate the relationship between knowledge, sources of information, culturally influenced attitudes and high-risk behaviors in this population. Results from a sample of 60 young Asian men who self-identified as "having sex with other men" indicated they were generally knowledgeable about methods of transmission and prevention, and appeared linked to a large information network that included informal sources such as peers and formal sources. However, significant percentages held culturally biased views of AIDS, such as believing race of partner or one's own gender role in the sexual encounter determined level of risk; and one third of the sample did not use condoms regularly. Having been tested for HIV was associated with holding less traditional cultural beliefs and a higher sexual activity level. Open communication about safer sexual practices was associated with monogamous as opposed to multiple relationships and with decreased tendency to engage in alcohol-related unprotected sex. Variance in overall risk was predicted by demographic variables such as education, age, and level of sexual activity, rather than by the attitudinal factors measured. Limitations of this exploratory study include a time-limited subject recruitment period and consequent small sample size, a homogeneous sample weighted toward young, well-educated, and middle-class respondents, and the exclusion of non-English speaking individuals. Nevertheless, study findings suggest that educational outreach targeting Asians who have sex with other men needs to address inaccurate cultural beliefs about HIV/AIDS, emphasize consistent condom use, and encourage models of open communication with partners about safer sexual practices.