UN Report Says AIDS Hitting Asian Gays at High Rates
July 30, 2008
On Tuesday, the chief of UNAIDS sounded a warning: "All over Asia, there are now epidemics of HIV in men who have sex with men [MSM] of the same magnitude that we saw in [the United States] 25 years ago." The phenomenon among MSM "is something that has been detected fairly recently," said Dr. Peter Piot. "There is not enough action yet but we are now starting programs."
"Recent study data from several major cities in the region, from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City, show increasing HIV prevalence among [MSM]," according to the latest report from UNAIDS.
"The epidemic [among Asian MSM] started in the mid-1990s. What we see now is a resurgence," said Dr. Paul De Lay, UNAIDS' director of evidence, monitoring and policy. That resurgence, he said, mirrors similar trends seen among U.S. and Western European MSM.
"It's disturbing because it's this sense that we can never let our guard down as far as prevention, that the epidemic will come creeping back if there isn't this constant attention being paid to it," De Lay said.
He said several factors could be to blame, including inadequate funding for programs targeting MSM and a lack of HIV awareness among younger men. MSM in Asia often encounter homophobia, De Lay said, while discrimination by medical personnel discourages them from accessing testing and prevention information.
Unsafe sex between men may account for up to 7 percent of HIV infections in China, the report said. De Lay said high HIV rates among MSM have also been documented in the Indian cities of Chennai and Mumbai, and in Jakarta, capital of Indonesia.
Agence France Presse
7.30.2008; Tosin Sulaiman
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.