Nitrite Inhalant Use and HIV Infection Among Chinese Men Who Have Sex With Men in 2 Large Cities in China

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This study aims to examine the role that nitrite inhalants play in HIV infection and risky sex behaviors among Chinese men who have sex with men (MSM).


The study consisted of a baseline and a follow-up survey conducted in Beijing and Nanning, China. The baseline study recruited participants through online advertisements and peer referral to complete a questionnaire interview, oral rapid HIV test, and blood HIV and syphilis tests. The follow-up included a questionnaire interview, and optional oral and/or blood HIV testing. Questionnaires collected information about sociodemographic and behavioral characteristics. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to evaluate associations between characteristics and nitrite inhalant use.


One-third (29.8%) of 510 participants at baseline reported nitrite inhalant use during male-male sex in the past 6 months. Nitrite inhalant use was associated with higher odds of HIV infection (odds ratio 2.0, 95% confidence interval 1.1–3.7). Factors associated with nitrite inhalant use were as follows: never married, currently living in Beijing, not willing to test for HIV with oral self-test kit, and seeking male sex partners via the internet. In follow-up, 270 of 317 responded MSM reported having male-male sex after baseline and 17% of them used nitrite inhalants during sex.


MSM who use nitrite inhalants are more likely to engage in risky HIV behaviors and have higher HIV infection risk than those who do not. Identifying MSM who use nitrite inhalants for targeted HIV interventions, such as HIV testing, might make HIV-prevention efforts more efficient among this population.

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