Indian J Sex Transm Dis Indian J Sex Transm Dis
Official Publication of the Indian Association for the Study of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
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  Table of Contents  
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 37  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 88-89

Failure to achieve reduction in the incidence of human immunodeficiency virus among men who have sex with men: A worrisome global concern

Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication14-Apr-2016

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh R Shrivastava
3rd Floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0253-7184.176210

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How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Failure to achieve reduction in the incidence of human immunodeficiency virus among men who have sex with men: A worrisome global concern. Indian J Sex Transm Dis 2016;37:88-9

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Failure to achieve reduction in the incidence of human immunodeficiency virus among men who have sex with men: A worrisome global concern. Indian J Sex Transm Dis [serial online] 2016 [cited 2020 Aug 3];37:88-9. Available from:


Over the years, the trends of surveillance have time and again suggested that men who have sex with men (MSM) have a higher risk of acquiring the infection by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) than the general population.[1],[2] In-fact, the MSM has almost 20 times additional risk of being infected with HIV in comparison with the general population, especially in low and middle income nations.[2] Further, it is important to note that even though a decline in the incidence of HIV across the world has been observed, the scenario among MSM is altogether different, as either incidence of HIV has remained same or even increased in nations like the United States.[1],[2] It is really worrisome that despite the existence of various behavioral prevention initiatives such as measures to enhance the access and utilization of condoms and lubricant, facilities for early diagnosis of infection, the existence of a mechanism to ensure quick linkage with sustained care and supportive services, and availability of an effective antiretroviral therapy (ART), the scenario is not as expected.[1],[3]

Now, the question arises as to why we have failed to reduce the incidence of HIV among MSM while we are at least on the right track for the general population.[2] This is predominantly because of the paucity of key information in the MSM sub-population (viz. no clear global or region-wise estimates available about their sexual behavior, condom use, psychological health, prevalence of other sexually transmitted infections [STIs], etc.).[3] However, the stigma and discrimination associated with MSM have played a crucial part and significantly influenced the opportunity to diagnose HIV infection, augmented the unmet needs for prevention, and discouraged them from utilizing HIV testing services and even prompted them to conceal their sexuality or sexual behavior from their family, friends, neighbors, and healthcare professionals.[4] Further, defects in the current service delivery models in most of the settings (viz. either the health workers have never approached due to the associated stigma or failure to establish a sense of trust) has also negatively affected.[4] At the same time, limited monetary allocation or lack of resources in the national HIV programs has also interfered with the progress/sustaining the achievements.[5]

In order to effectively protect the global community from the re-emerging HIV epidemics in MSM worldwide, there is a definitive need to strengthen, improve (and, in some cases, to start), and implement holistic, effective, and customized HIV prevention measure specific to MSM in heterogeneous settings.[2],[6] In-fact, to reduce the incidence of HIV among MSM, the World Health Organization in collaboration with the multiple other partners, has formulated guidelines to improve the HIV programs.[6] The ultimate aim of the guideline is to enable the implementation of an evidence-based approach for the prevention and treatment of HIV/STIs and simultaneously establish a mechanism to monitor the performance and impact of its implementation.[6]

It advocates for the implementation of various measures like the empowerment of community, including MSM (as it is an indispensable element in rationale planning, implementation and monitoring); addressing the issues of violence/stigma/discrimination/breach of human rights; giving special attention to ensure uniform accessibility, availability, and utilization to condoms/lubricants; building linkages with private sector; utilizing different modes of information and communication technology, including social networking sites for the advocacy, communication and social mobilization activities; strengthening of the different aspects of the program; and implementing consistently health care service delivery services (viz. sexual and risk reduction, maintenance of anal health, encourage voluntary HIV testing and counseling/pre- and post- exposure prophylaxis/ART, and treatment of STIs and of co-infections).[3],[4],[5],[6],[7]

To conclude, in order to significantly reduce the incidence of HIV and associated mortality among MSM the key is to ensure that services are easily accessible, implemented in an effective manner and finally delivered in close partnership with their intended beneficiaries.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Muraguri N, Tun W, Okal J, Broz D, Raymond HF, Kellogg T, et al. HIV and STI prevalence and risk factors among male sex workers and other men who have sex with men in Nairobi, Kenya. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 2015;68:91-6.  Back to cited text no. 1
World Health Organization. Men Who Have Sex with Men; 2015. Available from: [Last accessed on 2015 Sep 08].  Back to cited text no. 2
Ross AG, Ditangco RA, Belimac JG, Olveda RM, Mercado ES, Chau TN, et al. The dire sexual health crisis among MSM in the Philippines: an exploding HIV epidemic in the absence of essential health services. Int J Infect Dis 2015;37:6-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
Pachankis JE, Hatzenbuehler ML, Hickson F, Weatherburn P, Berg RC, Marcus U, et al. Hidden from health: structural stigma, sexual orientation concealment, and HIV across 38 countries in the European MSM internet survey. AIDS 2015;29:1239-46.  Back to cited text no. 4
Holland CE, Papworth E, Billong SC, Kassegne S, Petitbon F, Mondoleba V, et al. Access to HIV services at non-governmental and community-based organizations among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Cameroon: An integrated biological and behavioral surveillance analysis. PLoS One 2015;10:e0122881.  Back to cited text no. 5
United Nations Population Fund, Global Forum on MSM and HIV, United Nations Development Programme, World Health Organization, United States Agency for International Development, World Bank. Implementing comprehensive HIV and STI programmes with men who have sex with men: Practical guidance for collaborative interventions. New York: United Nations Population Fund; 2015.  Back to cited text no. 6
Amirkhanian YA, Kelly JA, Takacs J, McAuliffe TL, Kuznetsova AV, Toth TP, et al. Effects of a social network HIV/STD prevention intervention for MSM in Russia and Hungary: a randomized controlled trial. AIDS 2015;29:583-93.  Back to cited text no. 7


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