Men Who Have Sex with Men among Highest Risk of HIV…WHO Warns

WHO-World-Health-OrganizationAccording to a News release by the World Health Organization (WHO) on July 11, 2014, men who have sex with men, people in prison, people who inject drugs, sex workers and transgender people are most at risk of HIV infection and threaten the global progress on the HIV response.

Studies indicate that men who have sex with men are 19 times more likely to have HIV than the general population; women sex workers are 14 times more likely to have HIV than other women, and transgender women are almost 50 times more likely to have HIV than other adults. For people who inject drugs, studies show the risks of HIV infection can be also 50 times higher than the general population.

The argument put forth by the WHO report is that: “None of these people live in isolation,” says Dr Gottfried Hirnschall, Director of the HIV Department at WHO. “Sex workers and their clients have husbands, wives and partners. Some inject drugs. Many have children.

WHO states that despite this knowledge, these groups are least likely to have access to HIV prevention, testing and treatment services. In many countries they are left out of national HIV plans, and discriminatory laws and policies are major barriers to access.

In many countries, discrimination is reinforced by laws that criminalize sexual behaviors, drug use, gender expression or perceived sexual orientation. The organization is warning that failure to provide services to the people who are at greatest risk of HIV jeopardizes further progress against the global epidemic and threatens the health and well being of individuals, their families and the broader community.”

However, the report points out that where laws and policies support access to HIV services for these key populations, illness and death due to HIV among these groups has declined and new HIV infection rates remain low or have fallen, especially among sex workers and for people who inject drugs.

As a result, WHO on July 11, 2014 released “Consolidated guidelines on HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for key populations”.

The main recommendations request:

Larry Bate Takang Founder/Editor-in-Chief African Celebrities Magazine (ACM)

Larry Bate Takang is the
African Celebrities Magazine (ACM)

1)      Countries to remove the legal and social barriers that prevent many people from accessing services.

2)      Secondly, for the first time, WHO strongly recommends men who have sex with men consider taking anti-retroviral medicines as an additional method of preventing HIV infection (pre-exposure prophylaxis) alongside the use of condoms.

Rates of HIV infection among men who have sex with men remain high almost everywhere and new prevention options are urgently needed it concluded.