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Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Publication details for Dr Cecilia Tomori

Tomori, Cecilia, Srikrishnan, Aylur K., Ridgeway, Kathleen, Solomon, Sunil S., Mehta, Shruti H., Solomon, Suniti & Celentano, David D. (2016). Friends, Sisters, and Wives: Social Support and Social Risks in Peer Relationships Among Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM) in India. AIDS Education and Prevention 28(2): 153-164.

Author(s) from Durham


Globally, men who have sex with men (MSM) are at high risk for HIV. Many HIV-prevention efforts rely on community outreach and mobilization to engage MSM. This study examines peer relationships and their potential role in HIV prevention through 31 focus group discussions (FGDS) and 121 in-depth interviews (IDIs) with 363 MSM across 15 sites in India. Results indicate that MSM receive social support in friendships, sex-worker collaborations, constructed kin relationships, and romantic partnerships. Access to these relationships, however, is uneven across MSM, and can carry risks of disclosure of same-sex behavior and exclusion based on HIV- positive status. Positive peer relationships can serve as the basis of community empowerment, education, and couple-based interventions for MSM, and peer counselors can also provide a buffer against the social risks of peer relationships and facilitate linkage to care and continued engagement in treatment. These insights can improve HIV interventions for MSM in India and elsewhere.