Survey of Gay Asian Men
Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/11/26
Here are some of the noteworthy points:
About one-third were celibate or monogamous during the last 6 months; another third had a few sexual partners; and the other third were highly promiscuous. In this connection it is vital to recall the survey’s caveat: “The respondents are not a representative sample of the gay community” — one might add, if indeed one can even speak of a gay community.
The survey’s principal selection bias — self-selection — includes interest in participating in such a survey; some of the responses also suggest an unrepresentatively high frequency of travel and high level of promiscuity. The latter, though, makes the responses concerning sexually transmitted infections (STI) and HIV particularly significant: 24% had experienced an STI in the last 6 months, but only 5% were (known to be) “HIV-positive”.
Between 15% and 30% apparently behaved in what has been called a “fast-lane” style, with 6 or more sexual partners within half a year, and 13% used drugs before or during sex. However, only 75% have had at least one HIV test, so the discrepancy between 5% “HIV-positive” and 24% STI may be smaller than it first seems; probably not all that much smaller, though, because half of those who have never been tested were not tested because they knew that they have no reason to be “HIV-positive”. It seems reasonable to infer that STI is more common than “HIV-positive” by a factor of between 2 and 5.
There seems to be a mixture of concern and lack of concern, or perhaps fatalism, as to HIV. There is general willingness (72-81%) to befriend or work with someone “HIV-positive”, but less willingness (60%) to share food with an “HIV-positive” person. Yet 31% will have sex with someone known to be “HIV-positive” — and that 31% must include a significant number who are HIV-negative themselves, since not much more than 5% of the sample is “HIV-positive”. Moreover, 14% have actually had sex with someone “HIV-positive”, and that 14% likely includes some HIV-negative individuals, since (again) not much more than 5% of the sample is “HIV-positive”.
On another hand, 30% of those who have never had an HIV test give as a reason “fear and denial”.
The survey would seem to demonstrate at least two significant points:
1. Becoming “HIV-positive” is much less common than contracting an STI, even in a group that is notably promiscuous and fast-living.
2. The believed existence of HIV contributes to a certain level of confusion and emotional stress.
The low percentage of known “HIV-positive” individuals in this group is also interesting from the viewpoint of racial demographics. A large proportion of this sample appears to be comprised of Asian men, and copious data, especially from the United States, show that people of Asian ancestry are 30-50% less likely to test “HIV-positive” than are white Americans, including among gay men (pp. 36 (Table 6), 37 (Table 7), 54, 56 (Figure 17), 63, 66 (Table 14), 75-6 in The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory).