The impact of migration on the sexual health, behaviours and attitudes of Central and East European gay/bisexual men in London
Building on an earlier quantitative study which found that gay/bisexual men from Central and Eastern Europe were at greater risk of sexual ill health following migration to the UK, the aim of this qualitative study is to explore how the process of migration itself may have influenced the migrants’ sexual behaviour and attitudes.
To address these questions, we conducted 17 in-depth interviews in London with gay/bisexual male migrants from Central and Eastern Europe, drawing on Fisher and Fisher's Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skills model as an interpretive framework.
We find that the sexual behaviours of our respondents have been significantly influenced by the process of migration itself. In particular, extricating themselves from the traditional systems of social control in their home societies and having greater access to gay venues in London resulted in their increased sexual activity, particularly in the first phase of migration. High-risk sexual behaviour was found to be a factor of sexual mixing, the use of commercial sex and perceptions of risk in the UKvis-á-vis Central and Eastern Europe, with each of these factors also influenced by the process of migration. Risk-prevention behaviour depended upon the possession of appropriate risk-prevention information, motivation to use condoms and appropriate behavioural skills, with the latter two factors in particular influenced by social mores in the home country and the UK.
The interviews suggested a number of migration-related factors that increased the STI and HIV risk for these migrants. A number of potentially important policy recommendations stem from our analysis.