Male sex workers (MSWs) are at increased risk of HIV infection in the United States. Research is limited on sexual and drug use network characteristics of MSWs.
Community-based organization and health center in 2 US Northeast cities.
One hundred MSWs completed a behavioral assessment and sexual and drug network inventory. Using dyadic analyses, we assessed whether network characteristics, including sex worker-male client age, race, and HIV status homophily and risk multiplexity (ie, overlap in drug-use and sex networks), were associated with condom use.
MSW participants' mean age was 33.6. Two-thirds identified as Black or Latino, 12% identified as heterosexual, and 90% reported recent drug use. Participants reported an average of 5.3 male clients in the past month (SD = 3.4), and having anal sex with 74% of these clients, at a rate of 2.2 times per month (SD = 4.6). Participants reported inconsistent condom use during anal sex with 53% of clients. In multivariable models, inconsistent condom use was more common in relationships with presumed HIV status homophily [odds ratio (OR): 1.25; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.07 to 1.46] and sexual and drug network multiplexity (OR: 1.19; 95% CI: 1.09 to 1.30); and less common within relationships where the client is older than the MSW participant (OR: 0.83; 95% CI: 0.74 to 0.93). Number of multiplex relationships was positively associated with number of condomless anal sex acts with male clients (incidence rate ratio: 1.35; 95% CI: 1.19 to 1.54).
Network characteristics may contribute to disproportionate HIV risk among MSWs. Modeling studies should include network characteristics when simulating HIV transmission, and future HIV interventions should address the role of networks.