Prevention Programs Worldwide Are Missing MSMs, Survey Finds
December 3, 2010
An online survey of men who have sex with men (MSM) and their health service providers shows that the majority of respondents said most "gay men worldwide don't have access to HIV testing, counseling or free condoms and lubricant, a new study finds," according to a report by the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF), HealthDay/Businessweek reports.
The results of the global online survey of 5,000 MSM and MSM service providers, three-quarters of whom said they were from low- and middle-income countries, were released to coincide with World AIDS Day on Wednesday (Preidt, 12/2). The online survey was published in Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish, and included "a total of 3,875 MSM and 1,009 MSM service providers participating -- another 375 participants did not identify themselves as MSM or provider," according to an MSMGF press release.
"Initial analysis of the survey's results indicates that fewer than half of MSM worldwide have access to even the most basic HIV prevention and services," the release states (11/29). "Only 39 percent of respondents said they have easy access to free condoms and only about 25 percent said they have easy access to free lubricant, while another 25 percent said free lubricant was unavailable," according to HealthDay/Businessweek. "The survey also found that access to other essential services was difficult or impossible, including HIV testing (57 percent), HIV education materials (66 percent) and HIV treatment (70 percent)" (12/2).
"With the excitement surrounding the promise of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), it can be easy to forget that we already have a rich selection of prevention measures that we know work right now," said Patrick Hebert, Senior Education Associate at the MSMGF. "Today's findings reinforce the fact that we can't even get condoms and lube to more than half of MSM around the world. We must look seriously at barriers that prevent MSM in different country contexts from accessing these proven prevention tools," Hebert said (11/29).
The survey also examined MSM "knowledge about emerging technologies like PrEP, which involves taking antiretroviral drugs before exposure to HIV in order to prevent infection. While men in North America, Western Europe and Australia reported more knowledge about emerging prevention strategies than men in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Latin America, large numbers of men in all regions of the world expressed confusion about these technologies," suggesting the need for stronger education and communication to MSM population about the concept of PrEP, according to the press release.
"Regional differences also emerged regarding experiences of stigma and discrimination. On every measure of stigma related to homophobia, men in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Latin America reported higher levels and harsher forms of stigma and discrimination than men in North America, Western Europe and Australia," the release states (11/29).
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