While a growing number of studies focus on men who have sex with men (MSM), they typically ignore the heterogeneity of gender minorities within the MSM population. The recognition of new sub-groups among gender minorities (i.e., transgender and gender non-conforming), who also identify as MSM, play a considerable role in new HIV infections in China. Information on the psychosocial factors and HIV-related sexual behaviors require further consideration to understand the prevalence of HIV infection among MSM within these gender minority sub-groups.
From September 2017 to January 2018, MSM without HIV were recruited in Wuhan, Nanchang, and Changsha cities in China. Participants were asked to fill out a structured self-administered questionnaire to assess depression, perceived social support, resilience, identity concealment, and HIV-related risky sexual behaviors.
A total of 715 MSM completed the structured questionnaire, the number of MSM identifying as gender minorities were 63 and accounted for 8.8% of the population. Compared to the cisgender MSM population, transgender MSM were more likely to have a one-night stand/occasional partner (AOR = 3.49, 95% CI =1.02–11.98), to have sex after drug use in the past 6 months (AOR = 2.57, 95%CI =1.05–6.29), and to have reported a significantly lower likelihood of identity concealment (mean difference = − 3.30, 95%CI = -5.86, − 0.74, P = 0.01).
The findings highlight the significance of providing targeted interventions for different gender minorities within the MSM population. Research is required to further understand the relationship between gender identity, mental health, and HIV-related sexual behaviors.