Monday, July 20, 2009

Rates of HIV among MSM in Africa: A Review

IRMA is thrilled to see an increase in attention to this issue in the past two years.

The Lancet has just published a review of studies that could provide information on HIV prevalence rates among MSM in Africa. The summary and link to the full article can be found below, as is a glimpse at a BBC News article on the subject.

Men who have sex with men and HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa
Adrian D Smith, Placide Tapsoba, Norbert Peshu, Eduard J Sanders, Harold W Jaffe

Globally, men who have sex with men (MSM) continue to bear a high burden of HIV infection. In sub-Saharan Africa, same-sex behaviours have been largely neglected by HIV research up to now. The results from recent studies, however, indicate the widespread existence of MSM groups across Africa, and high rates of HIV infection, HIV risk behaviour, and evidence of behavioural links between MSM and heterosexual networks have been reported. Yet most African MSM have no safe access to relevant HIV/AIDS information and services, and many African states have not begun to recognise or address the needs of these men in the context of national HIV/AIDS prevention and control programmes. The HIV/AIDS community now has considerable challenges in clarifying and addressing the needs of MSM in sub-Saharan Africa; homosexuality is illegal in most countries, and political and social hostility are endemic. An effective response to HIV/AIDS requires improved strategic information about all risk groups, including MSM. The belated response to MSM with HIV infection needs rapid and sustained national and international commitment to the development of appropriate interventions and action to reduce structural and social barriers to make these accessible.

BBC News: Alarming Africa male gay HIV rate

HIV rates among gay men in some African countries are 10 times higher than among the general male population, says research in medical journal the Lancet.

The report said prejudice towards gay people was leading to isolation and harassment, which in turn led to risky sexual practices among gay communities.

But the risks are not limited to gay men, as many of the infected also have female sexual partners.

The report called for greater education and resources in the fight against HIV.

The Oxford University researchers found that the prevalence of HIV/Aids among gay men in sub-Saharan African has been "driven by cultural, religious and political unwillingness to accept [gay men] as equal members of society".

Read the rest of the BBC News article

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