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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Risk-taking among Men Who Have Sex with Men in South Africa

Creative Commons 'BY-NC' version 4.0 license

Objective: A growing body of literature suggests that men who have sex with men (MSM) represent a high risk group for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in Africa, but are often overlooked in the development of HIV interventions and programming. Little attention has been paid to the presence of intimate partner violence (IPV) among MSM in African settings. This paper examines reporting of IPV among a sample of predominantly white, gay internet-recruited MSM in South Africa and examines associations between IPV and sexual risk-taking.

Methods: Internet-using MSM were recruited through selective placement of banner advertisements on Eligibility criteria were over 18-years-old, residence in South Africa and self-reporting of recent male-male sexual behavior. There were 777 eligible respondents, of which 521 MSM with complete data are included in the final analysis. Ninety percent of the sample reported a White/ European race, and 96% self-identified as gay.

Results: The prevalence of IPV, both experienced and perpetrated, was relatively high, with 8% of men reporting having experienced recent physical IPV and 4.5% of men reporting recent experiences of sexual IPV. Approximately 4.5% of MSM reported recently perpetrating physical IPV, while the reporting of perpetration of recent sexual IPV was much lower at 0.45%. Reporting of experiencing and perpetration of physical IPV was significantly associated with race, level of education and reporting recent unprotected anal sex. Reporting of experiencing recent sexual IPV was significantly associated with reported experiences of homophobia.

Conclusion: There is a limited amount of data on IPV within same-sex relationships in South Africa, and the results presented here suggest that the prevalence of IPV within this White/European and gay population is cause for concern. Collection of IPV data through surveys administered via social networking sites is feasible and represents a way of reaching otherwise marginalized population groups in IPV research; although in this instance Black Africans and MSM who did not identify as gay were severely under-represented. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(3):343-347.]

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