WHO moves to tackle HIV infection, treatment in gay men, transgender people

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on national policy-makers to develop anti-discrimination laws and measures to protect human rights, and to establish more inclusive services for gay men and transgender people based on their right to health

The call was part of the 21 recommendations made by WHO and partners concerning the actions to be taken by multiple stakeholders, in close cooperation with gay men and transgender people to scale up access to treatment and prevention services for HIV and sexually transmitted infections among the highly vulnerable group.

The WHO also called on communities to scale up behavioural interventions for the prevention of HIV and STIs among gay men and transgender people; and on affected individuals to practice consistent condom use over choosing partners based on HIV infection status (sero-sorting)

There has been a recent resurgence of HIV infection among gay men, particularly in industrialised countries, according to a WHO statement obtained by PANA here Tuesday.

Data are also emerging of new or newly identified HIV epidemics among gay men in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America.

Generally, gay men are nearly 20 times more likely to be infected with HIV than general populations. HIV infection rates among transgender people range between 8 to 68% depending on the country or region.

According to WHO, one reason for this is the stigma experienced by many gay men and transgender people.

In many countries, criminalisation of same sex relationships drives such relationships underground, making people afraid to seek HIV prevention and treatment services.

"Urgent action is needed to ensure that the basic human rights of people most at risk of HIV infection are respected and that they have the information and tools to protect themselves against HIV and gain access to antiretroviral therapy if needed,” said Mariângela Simào, Chief, Prevention, Vulnerability and Rights, UNAIDS.

On his part, Dr Gottfried Hirnschall, WHO's Director of HIV/AIDS Department, said: "We cannot imagine fully reversing the global spread of HIV without addressing the specific HIV needs of these key populations.

"We are issuing these guidelines to help countries and communities scale up the services needed to reduce new infections and save lives."

Also commenting on the recommendations, George Ayala, Executive Director of the Global
Forum MSM & HIV (MSMGF), a key partner in producing the recommendations, said: "Men who have sex with men and transgender people everywhere face huge difficulties in accessing HIV services.

"The guidelines both present evidence for effective prevention interventions for these populations and provide recommendations to help ensure that pervasive barriers like stigma and criminalisation no longer stand in the way of life-saving services.”
-0- PANA SEG 21June2011

21 june 2011 13:07:46

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