Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Trace Kershaw


In India, criminalization of adult consensual same-sex relationships and sexual encounters along with stigma toward men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women (TW) may impact the use of social media to help MSM and TW connect to their community and find sexual partners. Through 30 individual qualitative interviews with MSM, TW, and key informants, we sought to understand how social media shape how MSM and TW connect to their community, meet men for relationships and sex, and how use of social media influences sexual risk. Qualitative data were transcribed, translated, coded, and analyzed using grounded theory. Results show that social media usage, which is increasing among all education and income levels, allow MSM and TW to find partners quickly, conveniently, and in larger numbers than traditional (non-social media) methods. Themes included issues of privacy, identity formation, expanding community, and emerging safety concerns and risk behaviors. Concerns about privacy and the ability to control what information are shared is shaped by a stigmatizing environment and an unsupportive legal system. Findings suggest that in order to comprehensively address HIV prevention, current interventions targeting sexual risk behaviors must address social media behavior.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access