Since 1990, helping busy clinicians master the science and art of caring for people with HIV disease.

Latest News

07/24/14

Criminalizing Sex Between Men Does Not Stop HIV Spread - Human Rights and Public Health Converge


Background: A World Health Organization statement launched at the 20th International Conference on AIDS 2014 in Melbourne states that protection of human rights is essential to the control of HIV. It recommends that:
1. Countries should work towards implementing and enforcing anti-discrimination laws.
2. Health services should be available, accessible and acceptable to MSM.
3. Violence directed at MSM should be addressed and prevented and community empowerment programmes should be provided.

A global internet-based survey involving 4000 men who have sex with men (MSM) revealed that 1 in 12 have been arrested or convicted for same-sex behaviour and that criminalised men had poorer access to health services.

The survey was conducted in 2012 and found that 24% of respondents in sub-Saharan Africa had been arrested or convicted because of their sexuality.

Arrested or convicted men were less likely than other men to have access to condoms, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV testing, medical care and mental health services.

Among men living with HIV, having been arrested or convicted was associated with lower rates of access to antiretroviral therapy.

Nigeria passed harsh new anti-gay laws in early 2014. The conference heard how these were already having an impact on recruitment to a study examining the health and behaviour of men who have sex with men and that HIV outreach workers have been arrested.

Conclusions: Enforcement of punitive laws for sex between men has a strong negative impact in access to HIV-prevention and care services among MSM. Those subjected to arrests and convictions for being gay/MSM reported significantly lower access to evidence-based interventions proven to reduce HIV acquisition and transmission.

The criminalization of same sex behaviors need to be overturned to effectively address HIV among MSM and respond to the public health needs of this population.

Reference:
Schwartz S et al. Discrimination among men who have sex with men in Nigeria: assessment of the immediate HIV-related impact of anti-gay laws. 20th International AIDS Conference, Melbourne, abstract TUAD0305LB, 2014
http://pag.aids2014.org/Abstracts.aspx?SID=1111&AID=11334


Source: Reporting from Melbourne, Australia, for PRN News: Bill Valenti, MD