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Sexual and geographic organisation of men who have sex with men in a large East African city: opportunities for outreach
  1. Michael W Ross1,
  2. Joyce Nyoni2,
  3. Anne M Bowen3,
  4. Mark L Williams4,
  5. John J Kashiha2
  1. 1School of Public Health, University of Texas, Houston, Texas, USA
  2. 2Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  3. 3School of Nursing, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, USA
  4. 4School of Public Health, Florida Atlantic University, Coral Gables, Florida, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Michael W Ross; Michael.W.Ross{at}


Objectives To describe geographical and dispersion patterns of men who have sex with men (MSM)-related venues in a large East African city and their associations with times, participants and venue type.

Methods Mapping of MSM sites in Dar es Salaam was carried out by community research workers who catalogued, observed and reported data on venue sites, formality, times of operation, type of participant, police or vigilante activity, length of operation and the degree to which it is known both in and outside the MSM and gay communities.

Results There is a large and widely disseminated MSM/gay satellite cultures of at least 98 sites, which has some formal sites, but is largely informal and operates within mixed entertainment environments and at particular times (including some weekend-only locales) across the city. There is a mix of places for sexual contact, largely social venues and sex on location sites. Cruising appears to be limited to open spaces and parks, with no vehicular component and almost no internet component. They are widely disseminated across all suburbs and there is no central location for MSM activities. MSM sex workers (SWs) operate at a third of these sites.

Conclusions There is a large number of ‘local’ MSM contact, social and sex sites and any work with MSM will have to include these less-formal and less-known sites. The widely disseminated nature of the MSM sites, however, also suggests that sexual networks may not be closely linked between sites. The climate of stigma, abuse and potential violence appear to be limiting the development of more formal sites. This pattern is probably typical of other large urban areas in East Africa and perhaps across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

  • Preventive Medicine
  • Sexual Medicine
  • Social Medicine

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