Health Research with Diverse Populations

Investigator: Timothy E. Lane, PhD, MPH
Sponsor: Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene

Location(s): South Africa


South African men who have sex with men (MSM) are an understudied population in HIV/AIDS epidemiological and social science research. However, evolving evidence indicates that sexual risk behavior among these men is common, and strongly associated with the use of alcohol. Self-report data suggest that HIV prevalence in this population is as high as or higher than the overall high rate of infection among the general South African population. Due to the association of HIV/AIDS with poverty, African MSM in townships seem to be at particular risk for HIV infection. As a result of these gaps in our knowledge, there is a lack of targeted, culturally appropriate, evidence-based interventions addressing HIV risk in this population and the resources for effective prevention are limited.

The aims of the study are

(1) to assess the prevalence of HIV among African MSM living in South African townships and identify which behavioral, psychosocial, and network characteristics distinguish infected MSM from non-infected MSM;

(2) to identify the structural and psychosocial correlates of sexual risk behavior in these men, with a particular focus on the role of alcohol use; and

(3) to describe the social organization of same-sex sexual practices of these men and identify structural and psychosocial factors that affect how these practices are experienced.