HIV Epidemics Among Men Who Have Sex With Men In The Middle East And North Africa
The findings were a result of comprehensive review from a team led by Laith Abu-Raddad and Ghina Mumtaz from the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Group at the Weill Cornell Medical College in Doha, Qatar. Their study, which was published in PLoS Medicine, was the first of it's kind to be carried out in the region. What they found was, by analyzing a vast range of reports from governmental and nongovernmental organizations, that there is significant evidence showing that HIV is becoming ever more rampant among men who have sex with men in the area.
Considerably high levels of HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men, of 5% or greater, were found in several countries, such as Egypt, Tunisia, and Sudan. A notably high case was Pakistan, with 28% infected with HIV. Whilst not all countries had data revealing the HIV infection rate among their population of men who have sex with men, it is apparent that there are many areas with concentrated epidemics. For a lot of those concentrated areas anal sex among men who have sex with men was said to account for over 25% of reported cases.
Whilst only 2-3% of men in the region were found to have sex with men, it's their high-risk sexual behavior that attributes them to being such a pivotal risk group. Many of the men were found to have multiple male and even female sexual partners. Un-protective sex among these men was found to be incredibly common, with only a 25% rate of consistent condom use. And up to 75.5% of them were found to be frequently engaging in acts of prostitution.
Only a few of the countries in the region have developed a means of dealing with this public health issue, through giving more power to non-governmental organizations. The authors of the study stress that this kind of response - to the evident expansion of HIV epidemics among men who have sex with men - needs to be adopted by all policy-makers in the Middle East and North Africa. By empowering non-governmental organizations there will be more services available to the minority population of men having sex with men.
The authors urged countries to seek ways that can reduce the severity of the HIV epidemic and prevent the infection from reaching other groups in the population. More thorough HIV surveillance should be carried out in the regions, along with more available access for testing. HIV treatment centers or services for men who have sex with men should be adopted as well.
Recommended related news
”Are HIV Epidemics among Men Who Have Sex with Men Emerging in the Middle East and North Africa?: A Systematic Review and Data Synthesis.”
Mumtaz G, Hilmi N, McFarland W, Kaplan RL, Akala FA, et al. (2011)
PLoS Med 8(8): e1000444. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000444
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