Garnering an In-depth Understanding of Men Who Have Sex with Men in Chennai, India: A Qualitative Analysis of Sexual Minority Status and Psychological Distress

Matthew J. Mimiaga, Elizabeth F. Closson, Beena Thomas, Kenneth H. Mayer, Theresa Betancourt, Sunil Menon, Steven A. Safren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Men who have sex with men (MSM) in India are a hidden and largely understudied population, and have an HIV prevalence 17 times higher than that of the general Indian population. Experiences of social marginalization and negative psychosocial conditions occur concurrent to HIV risk among Indian MSM. To better understand the contextual variables driving HIV risk and inform intervention development, five focus groups (n = 46) and nine key informant interviews were conducted with 55 MSM in Chennai in 2010. NVivo software was used to code the transcripts, and data were analyzed using qualitative descriptive analysis methodology. Participants described sources of psychological distress and low self-worth related to gender non-conformity and sexual minority status. These included stigma from society, pressure to marry, lack of familial acceptance, childhood sexual abuse, and the imperative to keep sexual minority status a secret. Participants’ personal evaluations revealed that self-acceptance may be an important resilience factor that can shield these psychosocial and HIV risk factors. In promoting health-seeking behavioral changes for Indian MSM at an individual level, our findings point to the potential strength of strategies that focus on self-acceptance of one’s sexual minority identity to foster better psychosocial and overall health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2077-2086
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Volume44
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 7 2015

Keywords

  • Bisexual men
  • Gay men
  • HIV
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Sexual orientation
  • Stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)

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