Understanding male sexual behaviour in planning HIV prevention programmes: lessons from Laos, a low prevalence country.
METHODS Focus group discussions were conducted with a range of young men in Vientiane, Laos; interviews were conducted with male sex workers. A questionnaire survey was conducted with a purposive sample of 800 young men. RESULTS Most young men initiate sex at an early age and have multiple sex partners. Married men are more likely to pay for sex and most sex for money is negotiated in non-brothel settings. Despite high reported condom use for last intercourse with a casual partner, decisions on condom use are subjective. Many men have extramarital sex when their partner is pregnant and post partum. 18.5% of men report having had sex with another man; most of these men also report having sex with women. Moreover, more men report having had anal sex with a woman than with a man. CONCLUSIONS Although not a probability sample survey, this study of a broad range of young men in Vientiane reveals sexual behaviours that could lead to accelerated HIV transmission. Education should emphasise the need to use condoms in all sexual encounters outside the primary relationship. This needs special emphasis when the partner is pregnant or post partum. Advice on safe sex with other men needs to be integrated into all sexual health education for young men.