Methods: Using data from a NIDA-funded HIV prevention trial, we conducted a secondary analysis of self-reported data from 763 adult cisgender MSM in Kazakhstan who completed structured screening interviews. Measures used in these analyses include sociodemographic information, age of sexual debut (ages ≤ 12, 13-15, and ≥16), and reports of ever buying or selling sex in exchange for resources (i.e. money, shelter, drugs). The cut-off age for early sexual debut was 15 years old, with 16 years or older as the reference group. Logistic regression models were used to estimate associations between early sexual debut and lifetime reports of buying or selling sex for resources, with covariance adjustment for sociodemographic characteristics.
Results: Within our sample of MSM in Kazakhstan, 23% had sold sex and 26% had bought sex in their lifetime. Significant associations were observed between early sexual debut and exchange sex behaviors among MSM in Kazakhstan. Participants who reported an early sexual debut before 13 years old and between 13-15 years old had significantly higher odds of ever selling (aOR=2.97, 95%CI: 1.64-5.37; aOR=1.57, 95%CI: 1.04-2.39) or buying sex (aOR= 2.13, 95%CI: 1.17-4.10; aOR= 1.59, 95%CI: 1.06-2.38) in their lifetime. Early sexual debut before the age of 12 and between the ages of 13-15 was also associated with selling sex for resources at an earlier age (aOR= 6.81, 95%CI: 3.16-14.66; aOR= 3.39, 95%CI: 1.87-6.15).
Implications & Conclusions: Evidence suggests that early sexual debut is associated with reported behaviors of selling or buying sex in exchange for resources among MSM in Kazakhstan. Future research should examine how sexual development during childhood and adolescence relate to exchange sex behaviors and risk among MSM. Clinical interventions aimed at reducing risks related to exchange sex behaviors among MSM may benefit from sexual health history information including age and context of sexual debut.