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Keywords:

  • Sexuality;
  • Sexual Behavior;
  • MSM;
  • HIV Vulnerability;
  • Nicaragua

ABSTRACT

Introduction.  HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men (MSM) is 38 times higher than among the general population in Nicaragua. There are little data about the sexuality and sexual behaviors of MSM. It is essential to gain a better understanding of this understudied population.

Aims.  The nature of sexual relationships among MSM, their reasons for engaging in risky sexual behaviors, and the sociocultural context in León, Nicaragua, were investigated through in-depth interviews. Our findings resulted in a structured overview of sociodemographic characteristics and HIV-related knowledge, attitudes, and risk behaviors.

Methods.  Fifteen participants recruited by purposive sampling completed an in-depth interview that was then thematically analyzed. An additional 104 participants were surveyed by means of an interviewer-administered questionnaire.

Main Outcome Measures.  The in-depth interview guide and the survey covered topics related to sociodemographics, childhood, social and sexual relationships, knowledge and attitudes toward HIV and AIDS, identity, and networks.

Results.  The resulting ecological model explored sexuality and behaviors in four categories. It showed that despite a homophobic and heterosexist society, there is an increasing gay community and greater social acceptance of homosexuality. Nevertheless, interpersonal and intrapersonal factors continue to negatively influence MSM behavior. Quantitative findings demonstrate a satisfactory understanding of HIV transmission among this population, 75% of whom reported concerns of becoming infected with HIV in the future. Approximately one-half claimed that they always used condoms when having sex with men, but only one-third of the time with women, indicating inconsistent condom use. Negative attitudes toward HIV/AIDS were seldom heard.

Conclusions.  This study is the first mixed methods approach in a Nicaraguan context that shows the interrelations among sex, sexuality, and identity at various levels of MSM life, and how they influence the sexual risk behaviors of individuals. Engaging in unprotected sex and postponing HIV testing are seen as cognitive dissonances. Ugarte Guevara WJ, Valladares Cardoza E, and Essén B. Sexuality and risk behavior among men who have sex with men in León, Nicaragua: A mixed methods approach. J Sex Med 2012;9:1634–1648.