First of all, who are MSM (Men who have sex with men)?
(MSM) is a term used to classify men who have sex with men, regardless how they self-identify (either as homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual). The term is intended to reference a particular category of people as a risk-group for HIV, and is considered a behavioral category.
MSM groups include:
- men who self-identify as homosexual, and are sexually active
- men who self-identify as bisexual, and are sexually active with men
- men who self-identify as heterosexual, but have sex with other men, regardless of the percentage of their partners who are male
- transgendered, or transsexual individuals, who engage in behavior similar to or equivalent to sex between men
- men who have sex with men, but whose cultural ideas may not lead them to defining themselves as either heterosexual or homosexual.
The Latino MSM community includes men who self-identify as gay, men who engage in bisexual behavior with both other men and women, and men who self-identify as heterosexual, though they engage in sex with men.
The latter category is important to the perception of Latino MSM, as the cultural taboos of Anglo culture (in other words, you¡¯re labeled ¡°gay¡± if you engage in any form of sexual contact with another man) do not apply, especially to the inserting partner (the so-called dominant partner who inserts his penis during anal sex).
Due to both the diversity of the Latino community as well as taboos about openly identifying oneself as "gay" or homosexual or having had sex with men, it is impossible to gauge percentages of MSM in the Latino community. I have not found conclusive information that identifies differences among age, level of acculturation, or national origin in numbers of Latino MSM. This is most likely due to the marginalized nature of Latino MSM, and its emergence as a relatively new field of research (particularly after Rafael Diaz' book - Latino Gay Men and HIV: Culture, Sexuality, and Risk Behavior).
However, among Mexican migrant communities, especially poor communities of farm workers, day laborers, and other migrant workers, rates of MSM were as high as 50% in local studies. This is in part due to the nature of the work, where men are often separated from their families, wives, and girlfriends, and are therefore more likely to engage in sexual behavior with other men due to factors of both loneliness and the lack of social pressure from their families and communities on their sexual behaviors.
For a discussion of sexual risk for Latino MSM, click here.