Men having sex with men (MSM) and HIV/AIDS in Peru: addressing new research and prevention efforts

Published: August 31, 2010

Men having sex with men (MSM) and HIV/AIDS in Peru: addressing new research and prevention efforts

J.M. Giron1, J. Mandel2, K. Page2, C. Caceres1

1Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH), Unit of Health, Sexuality and Human Development – School of Public Health, Lima, Peru, 2University of California San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco, United States

Issues: The HIV epidemic in Peru is concentrated among MSM, with reported prevalence rates ranging from 10-22%. Research has been hindered by factors such as the lack of social visibility and access to certain subgroups of MSM in Peru, resulting in a failure to capture the diversity of this population.
Description: A systematic review of research on MSM in Peru was developed. Data on HIV among MSM (prevalence, incidence, mechanisms of transmission, social behaviors, etc) is still very limited. Most studies focused on MSM from lower-income communities, and information regarding other sub-groups, e.g., transgender, middle & upper class MSM, is lacking. Studies have primarily utilized convenience sampling as their recruitment methodology, leading to a lack of representativeness and a failure to capture the diversity of MSM in terms of behaviors and specific prevention needs.
Lessons learned: HIV research and surveillance on MSM in Peru faces important social and methodological challenges. There is the necessity of rethinking the use of “MSM” as a research and programmatic category which emphasizes a biological approach with the subsequent invisibility of the diversity of subgroups, and prevents adequate targeted prevention and health care efforts.
Next steps: Alternative methodologies are needed to capture the broad diversity of MSM, such as time-location or respondent-driven sampling techniques. The HIV National Response must identify the specific needs of subgroups within MSM if it is to launch successful prevention and care campaigns.
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