The effect of mobility on sexual risk behaviour and HIV infection: A cross-sectional study of men who have sex with men in southern India

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Objectives: Mobility is an important factor contributing to the spread of HIV among key population at risk for HIV; however, research linking this relationship among men who have sex men (MSM) is scarce in India. This study examines the association between mobility and sexual risk behaviour and HIV infection among MSM in southern India. Methods: Data are drawn from a cross-sectional biobehavioural survey of 1608 self-identified MSM from four districts of Andhra Pradesh in India, recruited through a probability-based sampling in 2009–2010. Logistic regression models were used to estimate odds ratios and 95% CIs for sexual risk behaviours (unprotected sex with any male partner) and HIV infection based on the mobility status (travelled and had sex in the past year) after adjusting for sociodemographics and risk behaviours. Results: Of the 1608 MSM, one-fourth (26%) were mobile. Of these, three-fourths had travelled across districts but within the state (56%), and one-fifth (20%) across states. As compared to non-mobile MSM, a higher proportion of MSM who were mobile across districts (adjusted (OR=1.42, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.95) or states (adjusted OR=3.20, 95% CI 1.65 to 6.17) reported having unprotected sex with any male sexual partner. Further, mobility across districts (adjusted OR=1.43, 95% CI 1.01 to 2.03) or states (adjusted OR=2.45, 95% CI 1.46 to 4.10) was significantly associated with HIV infection. Conclusions: Mobile MSM have a higher likelihood of contracting HIV. Interventions extending the ways to reach out to MSM with greater mobility may augment ongoing efforts to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS in India.