HIV Prevalence High Among MSM in Asia-Pacific Countries, Lack of Government Resources, Stigma, Ignorance Primary Causes, Report Finds
August 14, 2006
The stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS, lack of government action and ignorance about transmission of the infection have contributed to high HIV prevalence in Asia-Pacific countries among men who have sex with men, according to a report released Friday ahead of the XVI Annual International AIDS Conference in Toronto, the AFP/Yahoo! News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News, 8/11). The 85-page report, titled "MSM and HIV/AIDS Risk in Asia," was published by TREAT Asia -- an initiative of amfAR that includes a network of clinics, hospitals and research institutions that advocate for safe and effective delivery of HIV/AIDS treatments throughout Asia and the Pacific (Macon-Markar, Inter Press News Service, 8/11). The report is based on several related studies, epidemiological data and 45 interviews by HIV/AIDS researchers, counselors and government officials in 19 Asia-Pacific countries, AFP/Yahoo! News report. HIV prevalence among MSM is as high as 14% in Phnom Penh, Cambodia; 16% in Andhra Pradesh, India; and 28% in Bangkok, Thailand, the report says (AFP/Yahoo! News, 8/11). According to the report, consistent use of condoms is as low as 12% among MSM, and up to 50% of all MSM in several regions have never used a condom, Inter Press News Service reports. Still, the majority of these men "believe that they are at low risk" for HIV, the report finds. About half or more of these men "also have sex with women ... (due to) situational sex (or) the social pressure to marry ... and can then serve as a bridge population for HIV/AIDS infection," the report says (Inter Press News Service, 8/11). The report also notes that sex between men is more common in certain professions, with 49% of truck drivers surveyed in Lahore, Pakistan, and 22% of rickshaw drivers in Bangladesh reporting having had sex with other men. Only about 2% of MSM in 16 Asia-Pacific countries have access to prevention programs and condoms, the report finds (Mason, AP/Sydney Morning Herald, 8/13). The prevalence of HIV among MSM in Asia is attributed to a lack of government action, stigma, "misconceptions about risk factors, high levels of unprotected anal intercourse, high level[s] of transactional sex, [and] high numbers of sex partners," according to the report.
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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.