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13 Dec 2010

Gay men have difficulty accessing condoms and HIV testing, study says

Published by PinkPaper.com (UK):

By Rex Wockner

A new international survey of more than 5,000 gay men has found that the majority have difficulty accessing HIV tests, counseling, condoms and lubricant.

The research – conducted by the Global Forum on MSM & HIV and professor Patrick Wilson of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, and paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – suggests that fewer than half of MSM worldwide have access to basic HIV prevention and services.

Only 39 percent reported easy access to free condoms and just one in four reported easy access to free lubricant. One quarter said free lubricant was completely unavailable.

Large percentages of men reported that it was difficult or impossible to access HIV testing (57 percent), HIV education material (66 percent) and HIV treatment (70 percent).

The survey was carried out online in Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish and circulated through the MSMGF's global networks and those of Fridae.com.

"Since the beginning of the epidemic, it has been widely recognized that condoms, lubricant, testing and treatment, when combined with community-led behavior change and support programs, are the most reliable tools available in the fight against HIV among MSM," said MSMGF Executive Officer George Ayala. "More than 25 years in, it is inexcusable that MSM around the world continue to have such restricted access to these basic lifesaving resources."

The study also found that men in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Latin America report higher levels and harsher forms of homophobic stigma and discrimination than men in North America, Western Europe and Australia.

"Stigma and discrimination undermine access to prevention and treatment programs by forcing MSM underground and away from services they may need," said MSMGF Co-Chair Othman Mellouk. "Without addressing the bigger issue of homophobia, we will have no hope of ending AIDS."

Source: http://news.pinkpaper.com

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