Culture, health & sexuality 2017 11 10() 1-15 doi 10.1080/13691058.2017.1390161
In countries such as India, men who have same-sex partnerships may marry women due to cultural pressures regardless of their sexual desires and preferences. The wives of such men may be at risk for HIV but limited existing research addresses this issue. This qualitative study used in-depth interviews to investigate HIV-related risk among married men who have sex with men (n = 34) and women who were aware of their husband’s same-sex behaviour (n = 13) from six research sites in five states and a Union Territory in India: Delhi (Delhi), Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh), Hyderabad (Telangana), Bengaluru (Karnataka), Chennai and Madurai (Tamil Nadu). Thematic analysis revealed that wives of men who have sex with men were at risk for HIV from their husbands’ sexual practices, which are often hidden to avoid the potential consequences of stigmatisation, as well as from gender-based inequities that make husbands the primary decision-makers about sex and condom use, even when wives are aware of their husband’s same-sex behaviour. Innovative interventions are needed to address HIV-related risk in couples where wives remain unaware of their husband’s same-sex behaviour, and for wives who are aware but remain within these marriages.