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International News

Malawi: New Data Show Greater Risk of AIDS Among Gay Men

August 31, 2009

A recent study finds Malawian men who have sex with men (MSM) are at greater risk for HIV/AIDS, yet prevention initiatives fail to target them.

The survey of 202 men included a sample of 20 originally recruited from the researchers' contacts, with each then asked to recruit nine or 10 other MSM. Some 54 percent had a boyfriend while 47 percent were in a relationship, including marriage, with a woman. Fifty-six percent of the men had multiple female sex partners, with an average of 12 over the most recent six-month period; 75 percent had multiple male partners, with an average of 14 over the most recent six months.

Of those who regarded themselves as straight, none was HIV-positive; 52 percent who self-identified as gay were positive, as were 47.6 percent who identified themselves as bisexual. Overall HIV prevalence among the respondents was 21 percent -- significantly higher than the national prevalence of 14 percent.

Twenty-six percent of those who reported always using a condom were HIV-positive; 14 percent who sometimes used condoms were infected; and 14 percent of those who never use condoms were HIV-positive.

Nearly half the respondents had never accessed MSM prevention services, while roughly 18 percent were "afraid to seek health services" and 3.5 percent had been denied health care. Four percent had been raped.

Homosexuality in Malawi is criminalized, and "the prevalence of HIV is high among MSM because there is no intervention to specifically address this group," said study co-author Gift Trapence of the Center for the Development of People. Other organizations involved in the study included the College of Medicine at the University of Malawi-Zomba; the New York-based Open Society Institute; and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore, Md.

Back to other news for August 2009

Adapted from:
Inter Press Service
08.18.2009; Christi Van Der Westhuizen

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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.
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