A Lancet editorial discusses the agenda of the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in Washington last month and asks how the success of the conference will be judged at the XX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014), to be held in Melbourne, Australia. “The return of the conference to the U.S. after 22 years, [was not only] a focus for celebration, but also provided a platform for vocal objection to the ban on injecting drug users and sex workers from entering the U.S.,” the editorial states, adding that “the absence of these groups from the meeting is rightly seen by many as a hindrance to developing approaches to combat the epidemic in regions where the disease is concentrated in these populations.”
LGBT/MSM/Gay and Bisexual
“Over the 30 years of the AIDS epidemic, the disease has had a profound impact on every country in the world,” and “in each country, that impact is experienced a different way,” Vivek Anand, CEO of the Humsafar Trust, and Kenneth Mayer, medical research director of Fenway Health and co-director of the Fenway Institute, write in this post in Huffington Post’s “Gay Voices” blog. “But one reality remains: In nearly every country, HIV rates are disproportionately high in gay and bisexual men, as well as men who have sex with men (MSM) who do not identify as either,” they continue, adding, “The full scope of the epidemic simply cannot be addressed until we recognize that there is no country in the world where we can overlook the MSM population.”
Philippines Health Department Reports 72% Increase In Number Of HIV Cases Recorded In February 2012 Versus 2011
“Philippine health authorities diagnosed 274 people with new cases of HIV/AIDS in February this year, the health department said, adding the new figure represented a 72 percent rise compared with 159 cases reported in February 2011,” Gulf News reports. According to the health department, 235 of the cases were attributed to sexual transmission, and more than half of those were among men who have sex with men, the news service notes. The presidential palace requested that Health Secretary Enrique Ona implement an information campaign to spread awareness of how to prevent HIV infection, according to Gulf News (Dacanay, 3/28). Department of Health spokesperson Eric Tayag “told ANC [news service] that this year alone, the agency is spending more than P315 million [$7.3 million] to fund services and distribute medicines to combat the virus,” ANC/ABS-CBNnews.com notes (3/28).
VOA News examines AIDS among high-risk groups in Burma, also known as Myanmar. “Burma’s AIDS epidemic mostly affects marginalized groups, such as the gay community,” the news service writes, adding, “About one percent of Burma’s population is HIV-positive,” but “[a]mong high-risk groups, such as men who have sex with men, health workers estimate as many as 11 percent have HIV.” The news service notes, “While Burma’s National AIDS Plan has helped stem new infections, it offers almost no help for marginalized groups already living with HIV.”
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on Thursday hosted a panel discussion focusing on the policy implications of findings published by the Lancet in a special series on HIV/AIDS and men who have sex with men (MSM), the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports (Barton, 9/7). Chris Beyrer, a professor of international health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a contributor to the Lancet series, explained two factors are affecting the expansion of the HIV epidemic among MSM worldwide, according to Inter Press Service. First, HIV “is far more efficiently transmitted through the gut, hence leading to a far higher transmission probability in anal sex, for either a man or a woman — around 18 times more likely than through vaginal transmission,” the news service writes. Second, “because gay men can switch sexual roles in a way that is impossible among heterosexual couples — acting as both the acquisition and transmission partner — the efficiency of transmission among MSM networks appears to be far higher than previously understood,” IPS adds, noting, “These two factors, the new research suggests, account for a full 98 percent of the difference between HIV epidemics among MSM and heterosexual populations.”
Street News Service/Inter Press Service examines how Senegal is addressing HIV/AIDS among prisoners in a Dakar maximum-security facility. “Prisons are high-risk environments for the transmission of the disease, due to the prevalence of hard drugs, violence and sexual relations,” the news service writes and discusses how addressing such issues can present challenges in the majority-Muslim country. “There is no mandatory testing in prison, and for those prisoners who, either knowingly or unknowingly, are living with HIV, the stresses of living in prison — including overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and poor nutrition — mean their health is even more compromised.”
“Funding to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS consistently fails to reach programs designed to control the disease among gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM), according to a new analysis (.pdf) released Wednesday by amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research and the Center for Public Health and Human Rights (CPHHR) at Johns Hopkins University,” an amfAR press release states. The report, titled “Achieving an AIDS-Free Generation for Gay Men and Other MSM,” “finds that resources dedicated to addressing the epidemic among MSM are grossly insufficient, and that funding intended for this population is often diverted away from MSM-related services,” the press release says (1/18). The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog notes, “The report authors looked at reporting data related to the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria HIV funding in eight countries — China, Ethiopia, Guyana, India, Mozambique, Nigeria, Ukraine and Vietnam” (Mazzotta, 1/19).
In this post on USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Erin McKee, USAID mission director for the Central Asian Republics, recounts a discussion roundtable with people “on the front lines” in the battle against HIV/AIDS in Kazakhstan. She writes, “I was honored to share a morning with people in Kazakhstan who are bold advocates for HIV-positive groups in their country, and I look forward to a renewed partnership with them in the fight to end stigma and discrimination toward people living with HIV in Central Asia” (12/27).
NPR's 'All Things Considered' Examines How Greater Acceptance Of India's Gay Community Helps HIV Fight
NPR’s “Shots” blog includes an “All Things Considered” story that examines how “a 2009 benchmark ruling in Delhi’s High Court,” which “struck down a 148-year-old law known as Section 377, a holdover from British colonial rule that made homosexual acts illegal,” has led to a wider level of HIV outreach to Mumbai’s gay community. Vivek Anand, CEO of the Humsafar Trust, “which provides free HIV tests and other health services to Mumbai’s gay community,” said the ruling has helped health workers gain a better understanding of HIV prevalence among India’s gay population, the blog notes.
HIV transmission in China is increasing faster among men who have sex with men (MSM) than in any other population, a trend that “cannot continue,” a group of researchers working in China write in a Nature commentary, adding, “Policymakers, public health researchers, clinicians, educators, community leaders and other stakeholders in China must come together to educate everyone, and gay men in particular, about HIV prevention and treatment — before any more people become infected as a result of ignorance and fear.” They continue, “Chinese people aren’t uncomfortable just in discussing homosexuality” but “sex in general,” which has resulted in “a pervasive stigma against people with HIV, a lack of general sex education for young people, and poor epidemiological data about the spread of HIV in some populations around the country,” as well as “a hidden population of individuals who are afraid to seek out HIV information resources or testing and counseling centers.”