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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

What is the potential for bisexual men in China to act as a bridge of HIV transmission to the female population? Behavioural evidence from a systematic review and meta-analysis

Eric PF Chow1, David P Wilson1 and Lei Zhang12*

Author Affiliations

1 The Kirby Institute for infection and immunity in society, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

2 CFI Building, Corner of West and Boundary Streets, Darlinghurst, Sydney NSW 2010, Australia

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2011, 11:242  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-242

Published: 15 September 2011

Abstract

Background

HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men (MSM) in China has rapidly increased in recent years. It is suggested that MSM could be a potential bridge of HIV transmission to the general female population. We investigated the bisexual behaviour of MSM in China through systematic review and meta-analysis.

Methods

We conducted a systematic review and meta-analyses on published peer-reviewed Chinese and English literature during 2001-2010 according to the PRISMA guidelines. Marital status and sexual behavioural indicators of MSM were presented graphically using forest plots. The pooled effect rates with 95% confidence intervals were also calculated. Meta-regression analyses were performed to examine the factors associated with high heterogeneities across the studies.

Results

Forty-three eligible articles (11 in English and 32 in Chinese) were identified. Our results showed that 17.0% (95% CI: 15.1-19.1%) of MSM in China are currently married to a woman and 26.3% (95% CI: 23.6-29.1%) of MSM had female sexual partners in the last six months. The pooled estimates for condom use rate between MSM and female sex partners was 41.4% (95% CI: 35.5-47.5%) at the last sex act; and 25.6% (95% CI: 23.0-28.4%) in the last six months. The consistent condom use rates with regular, non-commercial, casual and commercial female sex partners in the last six months were 23.3% (95% CI: 11.25-42.1%), 39.0% (95% CI: 28.8-50.3%) and 55.8% (95% CI: 41.4-69.4%), respectively.

Conclusions

A substantial proportion of Chinese MSM is currently married or had sexual relations with a female in the past six months. In addition, low condom usage was common between married MSM and their wives, hence posing a higher risk of transmitting HIV. Harm-reduction programs targeting married MSM and their female partners are necessary to curb the further spread of HIV infection to the general female population.

Keywords:
Men who have sex with men (MSM); meta-analysis; bisexual behaviour; condom use