Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Study reveals MSM as marginalised group in HIV treatment and prevention

A recent global study has disclosed that MSM (men who have sex with men) are a marginalized group of people with little access to basic HIV prevention tools.
According to the survey of over 5,000 men, less than half of MSM around the world have easy access to lifesaving HIV prevention and treatment services.

The survey carried out by Global Forum on MSM and HIV is titled, Access to HIV Prevention Strategies and Attitudes about Emerging Strategies.

The survey is the first of its kind to examine levels of access and knowledge regarding HIV services – including emerging prevention interventions like pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – among MSM across all major world regions.

The study also showed that 36 per cent had access to HIV treatment while 27 per cent said it was available but hard to access, or that treatment was not available, or that they have never heard of HIV treatment.
According to the survey only 44 per cent had access to free condoms and 29 per cent could obtain lubricant.
The report further indicated that Africa showed the highest levels of stigma and external homophobia while both Africa and Asia-Pacific reported the highest levels of internalized homophobia.

The report quoted George Ayala, Executive Officer of the MSMGF saying, “The results of this study lay bare the enormous role that homophobia plays in undermining the global response to HIV. Even the most effective prevention, care and treatment tools are useless if discrimination prevents gay men from accessing healthcare services in the first place. More than anything, this data is a call to action.”

Pato Hebert, Senior Education Associate at the MSMGF was quoted saying, “Across the board, the trend is alarming – men who have sex with men are not able to access the services they need. But just below the surface, we find that those barriers are enormously complex, varying according to age, region, and other factors. We will need smart, locally-tailored responses to overcome these challenges.”
The report sought to answer whether globally MSM are being equipped to protect themselves and their communities and the study showed that the answer appears to be an unequivocal, no.