The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App 
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol

AIDS 2010 Roundup: Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM)

August 10, 2010

 < Prev  |  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  Next > 

Human Rights, Homophobia and the African Diaspora

Two dominant themes that emerged from AIDS 2010 were 1) how to better protect the human rights of gay men in Africa and 2) how homophobia, criminalization, policing and stigma contribute to the rise in HIV rates among MSM of the African diaspora (people of African descent who now live outside Africa). Blogger Rod McCullom touched upon this topic in an article for Black AIDS Institute:

More than 80 nations have laws that still criminalize same sex behavior. In some of these countries, conviction can even result in the death penalty, reports UNAIDS.

Further exacerbating the problem, according to a report by Planned Parenthood, "58 countries have laws that criminalize HIV or use existing laws to prosecute people for transmitting the virus. Another 33 countries are considering similar legislation."

The trend is "even more pronounced" across Africa and the Diaspora, said Joel Gustave Nana, executive director of the Johannesburg, South Africa-based African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (ASMSHer). The West African laws vary in extremity -- just "exposing a person to HIV, regardless of if the virus is transmitted, is a crime in Benin, and Tanzanian law carries a possible sentence of life in prison for intentional transmission," reports Medical News Today. While the overall life for Black MSM may be better in North America, there are drawbacks. The United States and Canada lead the world when it comes to prosecuting people who infect or expose others to HIV, a surprising new study reveals. Black men have been disproportionately targeted with these prosecutions. A Black, gay, HIV-positive Michigan man was recently charged as a bioterrorist for allegedly biting a neighbor's lip during a scuffle, Black AIDS Weekly reported in June.

HIV/AIDS phobia and homophobia are harsh realities in many communities and are perpetuated not just by the government, but in churches, the media and in society as a whole. All of which make MSM deeply vulnerable to HIV infection, according to research presented at AIDS 2010. For instance, Joseph Barker presented findings about how mistreatment and stigma impact gay and bisexual men in Kampala, Uganda. Barker found that "men who have sex with men who have suffered homophobic violence or abuse are five times more likely to be HIV-positive than other men," according to an report. "Just under 40% of men had ever been physically abused, four out of ten had been blackmailed at some point, and a quarter had been forced to have sex." also notes on Barker's research:

The researchers wished to identify the demographic or behavioral characteristics that were most strongly associated with HIV infection. In multivariate analysis, factors such as condom use or numbers of partners were not significantly associated with having HIV. In fact, only two factors were: age and homophobic abuse.

Men aged 25 or over were four times more likely to have HIV (odds ratio 4.3, 95% confidence interval 1.5 to 12.8). Amongst men over 25, HIV prevalence was 22.4%.

Men who had ever experienced violence or abuse because of their sexuality were five times more likely to have HIV (odds ratio 4.8, 95% confidence interval 1.8 to 13.1). Of the whole sample, 37% had been physically abused at some point, 37% had been blackmailed and 26% had been forced to have sex.

In a panel earlier in the week, Joel Nana said that addressing the human rights issue in addition to the public health aspect is crucial in fully attacking the problem. Nana told the crowd, "The life of men who have sex with men doesn't only revolve around health or the lack of health." He added, "There are other issues -- such as extortion, harassment, expulsion from schools, unlawful arrest and detention, disownment by families and economic disenfranchisement -- that deserve equal attention."

Related Media:

 < Prev  |  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  Next > 

More From This Resource Center

Undetectable Viral Load and HIV Prevention: What Do Gay and Bi Men Need to Know?

Do HIV-Negative Gay Men Need Condoms if They're on PrEP? Here's What I Tell My Patients

This article was provided by TheBody.
See Also
More Coverage of AIDS 2010
Fact Sheet: HIV/AIDS and Young Men Who Have Sex With Men
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
More on HIV Prevention Issues for Gay Men

No comments have been made.

Add Your Comment:
(Please note: Your name and comment will be public, and may even show up in
Internet search results. Be careful when providing personal information! Before
adding your comment, please read's Comment Policy.)

Your Name:

Your Location:

(ex: San Francisco, CA)

Your Comment:

Characters remaining:


The content on this page is free of advertiser influence and was produced by our editorial team. See our advertising policy.