Prevention Science, Vol. 7, No. 1, March 2006 (
Prevalence and Correlates of Substance Use Among Young
Asian Paciﬁc Islander Men Who Have Sex with Men
Priscilla Lee Chu,
Gina M. Secura,
and Linda Valleroy
Published online: 24 January 2006
We examined patterns of substance use among young Asian Paciﬁc Islander (API) men who
have sex with men (MSM). Participants (N = 496) were recruited from sampled venues and
were interviewed on substance use, sexual behaviors, and attendance at MSM social venues.
Substance use prevalence was highest for alcohol (94% lifetime, 89% past 6 months), mari-
juana (61% lifetime, 44% past 6 months), and methylenedioxymethamphetamine or ecstasy
(58% lifetime, 47% past 6 months). During the past 6 months, 24% used an illicit substance
weekly or more often, 51% used club drugs, and 44% used 3 or more illicit substances. Mul-
tivariate models identiﬁed common and unique correlates of frequent drug use, club drug
use, and polydrug use. Associations between substance use and sexual risk behaviors also
emerged. These ﬁndings suggest a need to improve substance use and HIV prevention inter-
vention efforts for young API MSM.
KEY WORDS: substance use; Asian Paciﬁc Islander; gay and bisexual men.
There is a tendency to view Asian Paciﬁc Is-
landers (APIs) in the United States as having low risk
for substance use (Maddahian et al., 1985; Bachman
et al., 1991). The perception of APIs as a “model mi-
nority” bolsters this perception (Zane & Kim, 1994).
According to this belief, APIs represent a socioe-
conomically privileged minority group having only
modest risk for adverse psychosocial and health out-
comes such as substance use (Chen & Hawks, 1995).
Epidemiological data from national samples have
suggested that APIs experience the lowest substance
Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of
Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.
Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California
San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
San Francisco Department of Public Health, San Francisco,
School of Public Health, St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.
Correspondence should be directed to Don Operario, Depart-
ment of Social Policy and Social Work, University of Oxford, 32
Wellington Square Oxford OX1 2ER, United Kingdom; e-mail:
use rates compared with African Americans, Lati-
nos, and White Americans (Bachman et al., 1991;
Maddahian et al., 1985; SAMHSA, 2002). However,
some studies challenge this categorical view with
ﬁndings that show high substance use among certain
API demographic subgroups (Ellickson & Morton,
1999; Nemoto et al., 2002; Oetting et al., 2000;Price
et al., 2002). Recent assessments have indicated that
there exist few substance use prevention or treatment
programs for API individuals and that approximately
10% of APIs in need of substance use treatment ob-
tain services (Chow, 2002; NAPAFASA, 2001). Re-
searchers have argued that studies must look within
the general API category to identify particular sub-
groups at high risk for substance use, as well as ex-
amine the social context for substance use, in order
to develop appropriate prevention and treatment in-
terventions (Harachi et al., 2001; Nemoto et al., 1999).
API men who have sex with men (MSM) is one par-
ticular API subcategory that warrants attention for
further research into substance use prevalence and
Studies of young MSM in general (predomi-
nantly White samples) have shown high levels of
substance use (Crosby et al., 1998). An analysis of
2006 Society for Prevention Research