Newspapers Examine Challenges in HIV Prevention Among MSM
August 7, 2008
Rising HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men, "[h]omophobia, biology and misplaced confidence that AIDS has become a treatable chronic illness are contributing to a disturbing flashback among scientists and activists" and concern among public health officials that many countries "appear to be repeating the early patterns of the epidemic," the Washington Post reports.
"'Prevention fatigue,' confidence in new antiretroviral drugs, the use of methamphetamines and the arrival of a generation of young men who did not experience the ravages of the 1980s" is contributing to the situation, according to Richard Wolitski, acting director of CDC's HIV/AIDS prevention division. Wolitski added that HIV is "transmitted more easily via anal sex than vaginal sex."
Many MSM in the U.S. engage in "serosorting," where they try to calculate risk based on their own and their partner's HIV status, the Post reports. However, many men do not know they have HIV and can unknowingly spread the disease, Wolitski said.
"The same kinds of stigma and discrimination and institutionalized homophobia that failed gay men in America is now failing MSM in the rest of the world," Kevin Frost, CEO of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, said. Frost added that increased HIV incidence among MSM, in many cases, is "directly related to the institutionalization of homophobia" (Connolly, Washington Post, 8/7).
An AmfAR report released Monday at the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City found MSM are at an increased risk of HIV. According to the report, despite a unanimous commitment that all U.N. member countries made in 2001 to monitor HIV among high-risk groups, 71% of countries said they did not have any information on the percentage of MSM contacted by HIV prevention groups. Of 128 countries, 44% failed to provide HIV data on MSM.
According to the report, Benin, Ghana, Jamaica, Kenya and Thailand are the countries with the highest reported HIV prevalence among MSM. Although data were scarce, the study found MSM were 33 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population in Latin America, 18 times more likely in Asia and at least four times more likely in Africa (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/6).
Sexual activity between men is criminalized in 85 countries and is punishable by death in seven countries and by imprisonment in 76 countries, according to the International Lesbian and Gay Association.
Craig McClure, executive director of the International AIDS Society, said, "It's difficult to provide services to men who have sex with men in countries where they don't acknowledge they exist" (Washington Post, 8/7).
Post reporter Ceci Connolly on Thursday will discuss her series on HIV/AIDS along the U.S.-Mexico border and her coverage of the XVII International AIDS Conference (Washington Post Live Discussion, 8/7). A resource page on HIV/AIDS and the XVII International AIDS Conference also is available online from the Post.
Additional Newspaper Coverage on MSM
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.