Open Access Research article

Risks for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections among Asian men who have sex with men in Vancouver, British Columbia: a cross-sectional survey

Thiha Maung Maung1, Becky Chen2, David M Moore23*, Keith Chan3, Steve Kanters3, Warren Michelow3, Robert S Hogg13, Nadine Nakamura17, Wayne Robert4, Reka Gustafson5, Mark Gilbert26 and The ManCount Study Team

Author affiliations

1 Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada

2 Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

3 British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, Vancouver, BC, Canada

4 Health Initiative for Men, Vancouver, BC, Canada

5 Vancouver, Coastal Health, Vancouver, BC, Canada

6 Division of STI/HIV Prevention and Control, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, BC, Canada

7 University of La Verne, La Verne, CA, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2013, 13:763  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-763

Published: 16 August 2013



Individuals of Asian heritage represent the largest ethnic minority in Canada. Approximately 10% of the new HIV diagnoses in men in British Columbia occur among Asian-Canadians. However, the HIV risk patterns of Asian men who have sex with men (MSM) have not been extensively studied.


Participants aged ≥ 19 years were enrolled in a venue-based HIV serobehavioural survey of MSM in Vancouver, Canada. We compared the demographic characteristics, risk behaviours, and prevalence of HIV and other sexual and blood borne infections between Asian and non-Asian MSM using bivariate analysis and logistic regression confounder modelling.


Amongst 1132 participants, 110 (9.7%) self-identified as Asian. Asian participants were younger than non-Asian participants (median age 29 vs. 32 years; p < 0.001), but otherwise did not differ from other study participants. HIV prevalence was lower among Asian MSM compared to Non-Asian MSM (3.7% vs 19.0%, p <0.001). Among men who self-reported as HIV negative or unknown we found no differences in unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) with a discordant or unknown serostatus partner in the previous six months (11 vs. 13%; p = 0.503). However, Asian MSM were less likely to report ever using injection drugs (10.8% vs. 19.2%; p = 0.043) or using alcohol before having sex (52% vs. 64.4%; p = 0.017).


Asian MSM in our study reported similar rates of UAI as non-Asian MSM, but had a lower prevalence of HIV infection. Other factors, such as the use of drugs and alcohol, in relation to sex, may partly explain these differences. However this requires further investigation.

HIV; Homosexuality; Men who have sex with men; Asian