Epidemics of HIV appear to be emerging in some Middle East and North African countries among men who have sex with men, a new study has found.
Produced by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, the report found that HIV infections are occuring at a disproportionate rate among some populations of men who engage in same-sex intercourse, especially in Egypt, Lebanon and Oman.
Says the published report:
HIV epidemics appear to be emerging among MSM (men who have sex with men) in at least a few MENA countries and could already be in a concentrated state among several MSM groups.
There is an urgent need to expand HIV surveillance and access to HIV testing, prevention, and treatment services in a rapidly narrowing window of opportunity to prevent the worst of HIV transmission among MSM in the Middle East and North Africa.
One of the key contributing factors the study listed for the rise was risky behavior among the men, including multiple (concurrent) partners, not using condoms, and also involvement with female sex workers.
Additionally, Laith Abu-Raddad, the Weil Cornell professor who led the study, says social stigma and homophobia in the region have prevented governments from taking sufficient steps to curb the potential epidemics.
HIV infections more than doubled across the region in the period between 2001-2009, according to a Bloomberg report, citing United Nations figures.
Credit: Photo by Wheeler Cowperthwaite and released under Creative Commons