August 3, 2011
Concentrated HIV epidemics are emerging among men who have sex with men in the Middle East and North Africa, "and high levels of risky sexual behavior threaten to spread the AIDS virus further in the region, researchers said Tuesday" in a study published in PLoS Medicine, Reuters reports. The researchers "found evidence for concentrated HIV epidemics -- where infection rates are above five percent in a certain population group -- in several countries such as Egypt, Sudan, Pakistan and Tunisia," the news agency notes (Kelland, 8/2).
"The survey is the first to describe the state of HIV among gay and bisexual men in a region where same-sex intercourse is often criminal and the stigma associated with it can hinder efforts to prevent transmissions, the researchers said," Bloomberg News writes (Bennett, 8/2). According to a PLoS press release, the study "stresses the urgent need for countries in the Middle East and North Africa to expand HIV surveillance and access to HIV testing, prevention, and treatment services for men who have sex with men, to limit the size of the HIV epidemic, and to prevent the chains of HIV transmission from reaching other population groups" (8/2).