XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) Washington D.C. Thursday Plenary Paul Semugoma Global Forum for MSM and HIVUgandaAfrica © IAS/Steve Shapiro – Commercialimage.net
A report by Brad Hare, MD, associate professor of medicine, UCSF medical director, HIV/AIDS Division, San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center:
Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) remain the population most heavily affected by HIV in the United States.
[The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)] estimates that MSM represent approximately 2% of the US population but accounted for 61% of all new HIV infections in 2009.
Even though the overall number of new HIV infections was stable from 2006-2009, there was an estimated 34% increase among young MSM and 48% increase among black MSM over that time.
Paul Semugoma, a gay Tanzanian physician and activist working in Uganda with a special interest in LGBTI populations and health disparities, passionately addressed the [International AIDS Conference (IAC)] at a plenary session on Thursday. He highlighted issues for MSM across the globe, emphasizing that not all countries collect data on HIV infections in MSM populations specifically.
In every region where these statistics are collected, MSM have a higher prevalence than the general population, including in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, Oceana, Europe and North America. In North America and Europe, dramatic racial differences within MSM populations exist, with black MSM being 72-111 times more likely to be HIV infected than white MSM.
Barriers to reaching MSM for HIV prevention education and research, testing and delivery of health care include criminalization of same-sex practices, stigma, and lack of cultural competency among health care providers. Dr. Semugoma provided examples of how anti-gay laws and policies in Senegal and Uganda have prevented reaching this high-risk population.
Dr. Semugoma closed his remarks by providing an impassioned call to action to address MSM in the global approach to HIV, reminding us that we cannot achieve an AIDS-free generation without including MSM.