Open Access Research article

Pattern of HIV testing and multiple sexual partnerships among men who have sex with men in China

Eric P F Chow1234, Jun Jing2, Yuji Feng5, Dai Min5, Jun Zhang2, David P Wilson1, Xiaohu Zhang26* and Lei Zhang12*

Author Affiliations

1 The Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

2 Comprehensive AIDS Research Center, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

3 Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

4 Central Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

5 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Beijing Representative Office, Beijing, China

6 China Food and Drug Administration Institute of Executive Development, Beijing, China

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2013, 13:549  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-13-549

Published: 16 November 2013



Men who have sex with men (MSM) are a hidden but emerging population susceptible to HIV infection against a background of rapidly increasing HIV prevalence in China. Low HIV testing levels and multiple partnerships among MSM are two major contributing factors to HIV transmission.


We conducted a cross-sectional survey among 447 Chinese MSM in Changsha and Tianjin cities from November to December 2011 using an anonymous questionnaire. We aim to investigate (1) the trend of HIV testing rates among Chinese MSM during 2009 to 2011; and (2) the patterns of multiple sexual relationships with male, female and commercial partners.


The self-reported past-12-months HIV testing level among Chinese MSM increased from 16.6% in 2009 to 46.3% in 2010 and 58.6% in 2011 (χ2 = 173.49, p < 0.001). Compared with men who have tested for HIV, the never-tested MSM were generally younger, never married, students, and more likely to have unprotected anal intercourse with non-commercial male partners. Furthermore, 21.3% (56/263) MSM reported having multiple regular male and female sexual partnerships and 6.2% (16/257) reported having commercial male partners in the past six months. However, individuals who were never-tested for HIV are consistently less likely to engage in multiple sexual relationships.


HIV testing rates have increased substantially among Chinese MSM in the period 2009–2011, although significant barriers to testing remain. Multiple sexual partnerships, and especially bisexual behaviours, are common among Chinese MSM.

Men who have sex with men (MSM); China; HIV testing; Sexual behaviours