AIDS and behavior 2017 09 12() doi 10.1007/s10461-017-1904-5
This study used respondent-driven sampling to explore the effects of social support on HIV risk and protective factors among young males who have sex with males (YMSM) in Bangkok (N = 273) and Chiang Mai (N = 243), Thailand. It compared different measures of social support, including living situation, the proportion of family and friends to whom the respondent had disclosed their same-sex attraction, and scores on the multi-dimensional scale of perceived social support as predictors of two outcomes of interest-coerced first sex and HIV knowledge. Social support from family played a mediating role in both outcomes among YMSM in Bangkok but not those from Chiang Mai. Though social support from friends was also studied, it was less strongly associated with the outcomes of interest. The findings support interventions designed to leverage social support networks to increase HIV knowledge and decrease coerced first sex among YMSM. At the same time, they demonstrate that there is not a single risk or demographic profile encompassing all YMSM. Successful programs and policies will need to consider the specific attributes and social environment of YMSM in particular locations in order to effectively address HIV risks.