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MSM HIV Infection Rates in Some African Countries Significantly Higher Than General Population Rates, Study Says

July 20, 2009

HIV infection rates among gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in "some African countries are 10 times that of the general male population, and stigma, poor access to treatment or testing are to blame," according to a Lancet study published online on Monday, AFP/China Post reports. University of Oxford researchers looked at published studies to examine HIV prevalence rates between 2003 and 2009. "The difference varies a lot across Africa, but in most of the countries studied," MSM HIV prevalence rates "were substantially higher than among heterosexuals," writes AFP/China Post (7/20).

The higher prevalence is "driven by cultural, religious and political unwillingness to accept [MSM] as equal members of society," according to the study, BBC reports. Lead researcher Adrian Smith said there was "profound stigma and social hostility at every level of society concerning either same-sex behaviours amongst men, or homosexuality," adding that as a result, "this group becomes extremely hard to reach" (7/20).

The study "stressed that the risks were not limited to gays, as many MSM also have sex with women," AFP/China Post writes (7/20).

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