MSM Behavior Disclosure Networks and HIV Testing: An Egocentric Network Analysis Among MSM in China

  • Bolin Cao
  • Adam J. Saffer
  • Cui Yang
  • Hexin Chen
  • Kun Peng
  • Stephen W. Pan
  • Maya Durvasula
  • Chuncheng Liu
  • Hongyun Fu
  • Jason J. Ong
  • Weiming Tang
  • Joseph D. TuckerEmail author
Original Paper


Men who have sex with men (MSM) disclose same-sex behaviors with others, creating disclosure networks. This study examined the characteristics of disclosure networks that are associated with HIV testing among MSM in China through an online nationwide survey. Name-generator questions were used to ask each participant (“ego”) to nominate up to five social network members (“alters”) with whom he had disclosed same-sex behaviors. Among the 806 men, the average disclosure network size was 4.05. MSM who reported larger disclosure networks were more likely to have been tested for HIV (aOR 1.21, 95% CI 1.08–1.34). The most common disclosure network alters were friends (45.1%), followed by sex partners (18.7%) and healthcare professionals (2.5%). Men who disclosed to healthcare professionals were more likely to test for HIV compared to men who disclosed to family members (aOR 5.43, 95% CI 2.11–14.04). Our findings can inform disclosure network-based interventions to promote MSM HIV testing.


HIV MSM China Ego Network 



We would like the thank the SESH (Social Entrepreneurship to Spur Health) Global team for assistance.


This study was funded by National Institutes of Health [National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases 1R01AI114310]; UNC-South China STI Research Training Centre [Fogarty International Centre 1D43TW009532]; UNC Center for AIDS Research [National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases 5P30AI050410]; National Social Science Foundation of China [18CXW017]; Youth Talent Grant of Guangdong Province, China [2017WQNCX129]; Shenzhen University Grant [18QNFC46] and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the MeSH Consortium (BMGF-OPP1120138). This publication was also supported by Grant Number UL1TR001111 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of interest

Dr. Tucker and Weiming Tang, co-investigators on this study, participate in unpaid activities and as advisors for SESH Global, the coordinating center for this study. No other authors have conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bolin Cao
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Adam J. Saffer
    • 4
  • Cui Yang
    • 5
  • Hexin Chen
    • 6
  • Kun Peng
    • 7
  • Stephen W. Pan
    • 2
    • 3
    • 8
  • Maya Durvasula
    • 9
  • Chuncheng Liu
    • 2
    • 3
    • 10
  • Hongyun Fu
    • 11
  • Jason J. Ong
    • 3
    • 12
  • Weiming Tang
    • 2
    • 3
    • 13
  • Joseph D. Tucker
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 12
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Media and CommunicationShenzhen UniversityShenzhenChina
  2. 2.University of North Carolina Project-ChinaGuangzhouChina
  3. 3.Social Entrepreneurship to Spur Health (SESH)GuangzhouChina
  4. 4.University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  5. 5.Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  6. 6.Department of Media and CommunicationCity University of Hong KongHong KongHong Kong
  7. 7.Faculty of Humanities and ArtsMacau University of Science and TechnologyTaipaChina
  8. 8.Department of Public HealthXi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool UniversitySuzhouChina
  9. 9.Sanford School of Public PolicyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  10. 10.Department of SociologyUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  11. 11.Eastern Virginia Medical UniversityNorfolkUSA
  12. 12.London School of Hygiene and Tropical MedicineLondonUK
  13. 13.Guangdong Provincial Centre for Skin Diseases and STI ControlGuangzhouChina

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