Prevalence of sexualized drug use and risk of HIV among sexually active MSM in East and South Asian countries: Systematic review and meta-analysis


Introduction: Sexualized drug use (SDU), the use of psychoactive drugs in the context of sexual intercourse, has been identified as a risk factor for HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Asia. Given the distinct social and cultural context of same-sex relationships and drug-using practice in Asia, we aimed to describe the prevalence of SDU in East and South Asian countries and its associations with condomless anal sex (CAI) and HIV status. Synthesizing SDU research in this region, including SDU definitions, prevalence and outcomes, provides insights to inform future research and improved programme planning, resourcing and advocacy.

Methods: We systematically searched OVID Medline, OVID EMBASE, OVID Global Health, CINAHL, PsycINFO and SCOPUS publication databases for scientific articles published from 1990 to 2022 measuring SDU among MSM in East and South Asian countries. A narrative synthesis was utilized to describe key study attributes and findings, and meta-analyses using random pooled effect models were used to estimate SDU prevalence and its associations with CAI and HIV status. Subgroup meta-analyses, sensitivity analysis and assessment of publication bias examined potential sources of heterogeneity for the pooled SDU prevalence estimates.

Results and discussion: Of the 1788 publications screened, 49 publications met the selection criteria and 18 were suitable for meta-analyses. Findings highlight SDU definitions distinct from other regions but inconsistencies in the definition of SDU between studies that have been highlighted in research elsewhere. The pooled prevalence of recent SDU (past 12 months) was 13% (95% CI=10–16%; I2=97.6) but higher when studies utilized self-administered surveys (15%; 95% CI=12–19%; p<0.05). SDU was associated with greater odds of CAI (pooled odds ratio [OR]=3.21; 95% CI=1.82–5.66) and living with diagnosed HIV (OR=4.73; 95% CI=2.27–8.21).

Conclusions: SDU is common among MSM in East and South Asian countries, but varying SDU definitions limit between-study comparisons. Responses to SDU-related harms should consider local contexts, including specific drug types used and their relative risks.


Nevendorff L, Schroeder SE, Pedrana A, Bourne A, Stoové M




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Epidemiology
  • Population(s)
    • Men who have sex with men
    • People who use drugs
    • General HIV+ population
    • General HIV- population
  • Prevention, Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Prevention
  • Prevention
    • Sexual risk behaviour


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