Between ‘0’ and ‘1’: safer sex and condom use among young gay men in Hong Kong

Tien Ee Dominic Yeo*, Tsz Hin Fung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


Young men who have sex with men are becoming the most at-risk subgroup for HIV incidence in Hong Kong. To understand how young gay men in Hong Kong interpret and implement safer sex and condom use, focus-group discussions and individual in-depth interviews were held. The 74 participants were nearly all ethnic Chinese gay men aged between 18 and 25 years. Findings indicate that the challenge for health intervention lies in young gay men’s inconsistent condom use despite their high level of HIV-related knowledge. Participants described using condoms, testing for HIV and abstaining from anal sex as measures undertaken to prevent HIV infection. However, sociocultural norms and expectations pertaining to ‘0’ (docile, bottom) and ‘1’ (assertive, top) roles and trust between partners complicate the consistent implementation of risk-reduction measures. Influenced by heteronormative and romantic beliefs, sexual behaviours such as condomless anal sex and internal ejaculation hold symbolic meanings – exclusivity, commitment, intimacy, possession – for young gay men in Hong Kong, which override health concerns. These findings support more empowerment-driven HIV programming for young gay men.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-307
Number of pages14
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Issue number3
Early online date21 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

User-Defined Keywords

  • condom use
  • HIV prevention
  • Hong Kong
  • Young gay men


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