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Cult Health Sex. 2013;15(4):480-93. doi: 10.1080/13691058.2013.766931.

'In different situations, in different ways': male sex work in St. Petersburg, Russia.

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Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, USA.


We conducted a qualitative study of male sex work in St. Petersburg Russia with a focus on social vulnerabilities, HIV-risk perception and HIV-related behaviours. In-depth interviews were conducted with individuals knowledgeable about male sex work through their profession and with male sex workers themselves. Male sex work involves a variety of exchanges, including expensive vacations, negotiated monetary amounts or simply access to food. Methods of finding clients included the Internet, social venues (e.g. gay clubs and bars) and public places (e.g. parks). Use of the Internet greatly facilitated male sex work in a variety of ways. It was used by both individuals and agencies to find clients, and appeared to be increasing. Men often reported not being professionally connected to other male sex workers and limited disclosure about their work. Many were aware of the work-related risks to personal safety, including violence and robbery by clients. Perceived risk for HIV was mostly abstract and several exceptions to condom use with clients were noted. Alcohol use was reported as moderate but alcohol was consumed frequently in association with work. These data suggest that the most salient risks for male sex workers include professional isolation, threats to personal safety, limited perceived HIV risk and sub-optimal levels of condom use.

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