HIV Continues to Spread Among Gay Men, Studies Show

Even in countries that have made great gains in reducing the burden of AIDS, the epidemic is still growing among gay men

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As the world’s leading AIDS researchers gather for the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., scientists report that despite gains in controlling the spread of HIV, the disease has continued to spread at an alarming rate in the very population in which it first appeared — gay men.

In a series of papers in the Lancet dedicated to the dynamics of HIV among gay men — a group epidemiologists define as men who have sex with men (MSM) — scientists say that the continued burden of AIDS in this group is due to a combination of lifestyle and biological factors that put these men at higher risk. Rates are rising in all countries around the world.

(MORE: Treatment as Prevention: How the New Way to Control HIV Came to Be)

In one study, led by Chris Beyrer, of the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, researchers analyzed surveillance reports and studies of HIV among MSM, including data that were part of routine United Nations reporting from member nations. Rates of HIV among gay men ranged from 3% in the Middle East to 25% in the Caribbean. In all reporting nations, rates were on the rise, even in developed nations like the U.S., Australia and the U.K. where HIV is declining overall.

In fact, says Beyrer, income does not seem to matter when it comes to HIV trends among MSM. In the U.S., for example, infection rates among gay men have been increasing by 8% each year since 2001, contributing to a 15% prevalence rate and putting the U.S. on par with countries like Thailand, Malaysia and some African and Caribbean nations where neither awareness of HIV/AIDS nor drug treatments are as widespread. HIV prevalence rates among MSM in Brazil, Canada, Italy and India range between 11% and 15%, while many western European countries have lower rates of around 6%.

Public health experts have been concerned about the rising rates among MSM for years now, viewing the current epidemic as the second wave — the first having occurred in the 1980s. Today’s infections, they say, are affecting a new generation of men who didn’t live through the initial devastation of AIDS’s early days, when there were no drug treatments and a diagnosis was a death sentence. Public health messages about safe sex practices and testing targeted to gay men have waned in the intervening years, and now, some experts say, a new generation of at-risk men have to be educated about the disease.

(MORE: How the Global War on Drugs Drives HIV and AIDS)

HIV has always been more common among gay men, but Beyrer and his colleagues say the traditional risk factors may not entirely explain the surge in many cases. Traditionally, HIV experts have pointed to high-risk behaviors such as unprotected sex, having multiple partners, injection drug use and drug use in general for making gay men more vulnerable to infection. But there may be biological reasons for the enhanced risk as well. For example, there is an 18 times greater risk of HIV transmission through anal sex than through vaginal sex, which may explain why the virus continues to thrive in gay men, despite the fact that they still receive the bulk of HIV awareness and treatment public-health messages. “If HIV infection in MSM is heavily biologically determined, do present approaches to HIV programming for MSM, which rely heavily on information, education and behavior change strategies, make sense?” the authors write. “The epidemiology suggests that urgent reform is needed.”

That’s why the latest data on using HIV treatments to protect healthy people from infection, a strategy known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), are of particular interest to public health experts. In another paper in the Lancet series, researchers estimate that about 25% of new infections among MSM might be avoided if prevention practices such as PrEP could be combined with existing strategies, such as safe sex counseling and condom use.

But the key to making these efforts work is in bringing the health care community on board. In another paper in the series, researchers document the fact that many health care providers aren’t trained or equipped to screen, treat or advise gay men about their HIV risk. In some countries, stigma about HIV continues to thwart physicians’ ability to provide adequate care to MSM at risk of infection. “Optimum clinical care for sexual and gender minorities is a fundamental human right, and the support of health care professionals is needed for its provision,” write the authors.

(MORE: Truvada: 5 Things to Know About the First Drug to Prevent HIV)

The series highlights both how far we have come in understanding and controlling HIV, and how, despite advances in drug therapy and social awareness, we’re still allowing HIV to get the best of us.

110 comments
enturner
enturner

Thank God for all the suffering that nature brings upon those who do evil. MSM will never be free of disease, no matter how much society starts to accept their lifestyle as normal.

Seanmar
Seanmar

Common sence shou7ld be sufficient to discourage homosexual activity.

VeronicaEarly
VeronicaEarly

Just by reading the misinformation posted in the comments under this article one can clearly tell that HIV/AIDs education is still lacking. We need to be spending time and energy into educating everyone, not just gays about the transmission of HIV/AIDS and promoting safer sex and safer intravenous drug use. Discrimination and stigmatizing HIV/AIDs or the risky behaviors associated with it are not going to help promote safer behaviors in the future. Discrimination and stigmatizing it will only work against efforts to combat the spread by causing people to lie and be secretive about such behavior further delaying their getting tested and delay their care if positive.

VeronicaEarly
VeronicaEarly

One other thing to think about not all gay men have anal sex and heterosexual woman have anal sex too!!!!

JohnSonia
JohnSonia

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Civilr
Civilr

Homosexuality is an 'inhuman' right and not a human right because it seeks to bring an end to humanity...#sayno2homosexuals

ANONYMOUSSY
ANONYMOUSSY

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willi828
willi828

And who paid for these *cough* "scientific" experiments?  I don't see any sources cited.  As usual, this is nothing more than conjecture and simple selective sampling which is in no way "scientific" nor accurate.  If this is truly fact, then why hide the sources or the samples?  The only larger pile of steaming BS is the bible itself.

Hrithikroshan4
Hrithikroshan4

Anal sex is 10 to 20 more likely to cause in the transmission of aids. Go argue with people who keep these numbers.

Hrithikroshan4
Hrithikroshan4

it will break off in a snap. Women anus is more elastic and flexible than m

Straightnatural
Straightnatural

God created the anus for feces to pass through. It is the exit point for what is commonly called "shit". It is an abomination to insert your penis into a man's rectum and convince yourself that it is natural and pleasurable. It is nasty and unnatural and God destroyed Sodom and the surrounding cities because of it. Read Genesis 18 and 19. He will again rain fire and brimstone on those who practice these deviant sexual behaviours. 

SarahMorris2010
SarahMorris2010

In 1985, I worked for several doctors who were treating AIDS patients. They were in the forefront of AIDS treatment. They even did some of the protocal testing for new drugs around 1995. Sadly, I never heard anyone of those doctors warning the patients to protect themselves by curtailing their sexual activity. It breaks my heart that so many have needlessly died, because doctors were not telling the public that the typical sexual activities that gay men particiate in put them at an extremely high risk of contracting AIDS. Even the Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that one certain popular activity is SO dangerous, it should not be practiced at all. BUT, do you hear any of this in the news? No, we hear about all other forms of health issues, except this issue, which could save so many lives. Thanks medical profession, thanks media, thanks to political correctness.

DoctorMorris
DoctorMorris

Start testing heterosexuals like the gays are being used for 'social responsibility'. You'll soon change your mind about thinking it's a gay thing. But everyone thinks you're straight, you're ok or better than one whose gay. Not so fast!!! 

CanadaFrankR
CanadaFrankR

Fools. Why would a guy put his penis in the anus of a man or woman. The anus was not intended for sex, it was intended for excrement.

LiveFire Agility
LiveFire Agility

A lot of you are missing the point.  AIDS is a virus spread as the result of risky behavior that can include unprotected sex, intravenous drug use and infection of blood supply.  Whether someone is homosexual or heterosexual is irrelevant. 

 The fact is that those in social work, health care and research know full well a cure already exists:  behavior modification.  

Heart disease kills more people in the USA per year than all other diseases, including cancers and AIDS, combined (source:  

http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-20... among many many others).  To a large extent heart disease is based on behavior which needs to be modified.  But it's also hereditary due to genetics and birth defects that having no link to lifestyle.  You can't say that about AIDS.  

You also can't say that AIDS is caused by exposure to prolonged outside sources such as asbestos, high magnetic fields and radiation like some cancers.  Humans are not genetically predisposed to carry the virus unless it's transferred from the mother to the fetus during pregnancy.

Every life threatening disease gives a reason to find a cure through medicine.  AIDS doesn't need one as it can be eradicated through behavior modification.

Behavior modification works. Atul Gawnde writing in his book Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance about visiting a village where the people were susceptible to a worm in their water supply that would cause extreme pain and wounds to their gut and legs.  The social workers taught the village women to filter the water through the skirts of their dresses to prevent the eggs and parasites from remaining in the water.  Every once in a while someone would become ill and they would re-educate them to modify their behavior.  It took some time but eliminated the problem.

Unfortunately, AIDS is tied to behavior that is rooted in addiction or close, unprotected human contact. Both of these can be hard, and impossible for some, to modify. But that doesn't mean we give up and throw money at a problem for which there's already a cure.

I don't know anyone who has died of AIDS but I am related to two people who have HIV and it's from their past life history. Neither of them were forced to live the lives they did.  They admit it, and they wish they would have done something different.  Fortunately their children are not in danger. But, being human, we're all weak and don't always make the right decisions.  I pray they remain healthy and that their HIV remains dormant.

Just my opinion, not looking for a political discussion, but always interested in other people's respectful points of view.

Thanks

breindrein
breindrein

I live in South Africa and we have a LOT of hiv/aids cases and there are a lot of related deaths. Here it definitely has a lot more to do with education than a specific sexual preference. I happened to design campaign material for http://www.satregional.org/ last week and the message of the importance of education is always the same. It is possible that the pool of choices for gay guys are a lot less which would increase their odds of meeting an HIV+ partner, but at the end of the day it still comes down to knowing your status and being open about it. Gay guys specifically will have to be more vigilant.

ChristopherErwinHogan
ChristopherErwinHogan

Yeah, I laid out a simple way for people to avoid catching HIV and the moderator would't post it.  That right there tells you why people still aren't educated on prevention when we're too embarrassed to talk about it.

Tony Martellini
Tony Martellini

The numbers increase, for only two undisputed reasons:  1) Gay men enjoy unprotected oral and anal sex.  2)  Gay men are promiscuous, far more than heterosexual men. 

The prevention of transmission is accomplished by using condoms, and awareness of your exposure to the disease.  Gay men enjoy the freedom of unprotected casual sex.

No homophobes,  no bias, is involved here, simply a statement of fact.  We don't need 2500 word articles, to explain something as simple as this. 

Keith
Keith

If they don't know how to stay safe by now I don't think it is going to happen.

Robert Hudson
Robert Hudson

So if we know how HIV is transmitted, and our best weapon is prevention and no vaccine will be available for many decades, again, why are the numbers increasing?????

Queen
Queen

Just a thought. Universe is built base on balance..for every pair there is an opposite side. Man and woman. Left and Right. Up and down.Front and back etc.. Imbalance  in anything will cause disaster. PERIOD!

ChristopherErwinHogan
ChristopherErwinHogan

Always use condoms for anal sex.  Don't have oral sex if you have a sore or cut in your mouth. Avoid cum or pre-cum in mouth. If people would just do those three things, this disease would disappear amoung gay men.

frankiego
frankiego

   I am confused.... i thought this behavior was behind the spread of aids.

Robert Yocum
Robert Yocum

thats whate happen when you think with your stick. instead of your brain.. but its also a of immorality. I believe God created aids in order to punish the people of the world for its sexual immorality. And people cannot kill this virus like most STDs. no cure can be found. its time that people get there heads together and repent. and change you r  habits. by doing this. stds and aids could be eradicated in one generation

iTz L3G3ND³
iTz L3G3ND³

Fools start believing when its too late. Never forget I told ya. Peace.

iTz L3G3ND³
iTz L3G3ND³

The public's ignorance is a growing pain that never lets up. These social issues aren't complex at all, but society is clueless to the point where it doesn't even matter.

Beeeeezy
Beeeeezy

Gay Sex will always be a primary source for the spread of HIV/AIDS. Everywhere. Point blank period. It is unnatural for a penis to go inside of another human's anal cavity. The anus is not physically capable of handling the abrasive act of anal sex, tears will occur, viruses and other ickes will be transmitted. The only way to Lower instances of HIV/AIDS in the gay population is for gay men to wear condoms EVERY time, or to stop engaging in gay sex all together. Take it or leave it.

Tate Wright
Tate Wright

Maybe every gay man should get circumcised.  That's been shown to prevent AIDS in Africa.

rfouts202020
rfouts202020

I guess this is one reason why I am not necessarily feeling gay marriage. And for the black community, this celebration of another bisexual, formerly in the closet, black male (Frank Ocean) kind of troubles me. Especially, given the way HIV continues to devastate the African-American community. The facts speak for themselves at this time.

lees2002
lees2002

@VeronicaEarly Wrong,  Almost all HIV transmission do to sex is homosexual men. 


It's a fact.   In underdeveloped countries, untested medical blood supplies have been the primary trasmitter

Your way is the wrong way.  It tells gays they are  no more at risk than anyone else, 

Gogo12
Gogo12

By the way ! Prostitution is illegal in many countries but does that help? It does not matter legal/illegal. Also in the U.S. there's many things going on . Also in the U.S. there's unprotected barebacksex with prostitutes but heterosexual men can't get tested cut what if the doctor or anyone else will find out about the sex with the prostitue? Jail?

SamSpade1
SamSpade1

@willi828 - Even if you dismiss the Bible , the health stats speak for themselves. In 2008, the HIV rate among msm (men who have sex with men) in the USA was at 58%. According to the CDC, over 63% of msm  are now infected with HIV/AIDS, with another 18% who are also infected but won't know it until they become chronically sick.  This means that 81% of all homosexual and bisexual men in the USA are now infected. Most young gay men and youths between the ages of 13 to 24 will be dead before the age of 50. S who says  that "gay" relationships are normal? In Vancouver, Canada, msm are responsible for 95% of all new syphilis cases. Considering that msm are in the minority regardless of which country they live in, these figures should horrify everyone.

Gogo12
Gogo12

@CanadaFrankR 

Because you do not only have sex because you want to reproduce but because you want to feel ur partner everywhere. It is more intense and also women like it . Also Sex and reproduction are two different things. 

Paul Hanson
Paul Hanson

So God is to blame for the kid losing his parents to AIDs? You do realize that this virus is mostly found in Sub-Saharan Africa right? Where homosexuality is a death sentence? Does God hate blacks now?

willi828
willi828

What a terribly incomplete though. Not only do you have no evidence to support your claim, but you completely forget about the widespread aids epidemic in Africa. That is being spread by heterosexual men and women. That's where the doctors claim HIV came from, although all the evidence points to an accidental laboratory outbreak.

Ass play is hardly a gay thing...

DoctorMorris
DoctorMorris

not true. Circumcision does not prove it.

ChristopherErwinHogan
ChristopherErwinHogan

Marriage encourages monogamy.  Monongamy reduces disease.  Anybody who wants to eradicate HIV should support marriage for gay people.

willi828
willi828

@SamSpade1 @willi828 Your calculations are flawed, not to mention outright false.  HIV rate?  How did they calculate this number?  How do they know how many men total are in that sample?  You can't go slapping errant numbers on things and adding them up to make it sound scary and actually expect people to buy it.  Do you know that the CDC estimates that 18% of the entire infected population doesn't yet know they are infected?  ~200,000 people makeup that demographic.  You're citing rates (incorrectly) that are for a specific year.  The actual source:

  • Although MSM represent about 4% of the male population in the United States,4 in 2010, MSM accounted for 78% of new HIV infections among males and 63% of all new infections.2 MSM accounted for 52% of all people living with HIV infection in 2009, the most recent year these data are available.1

 So in the first few years of collecting data, this is what the data is showing.  Not, 63% of gay men are infected...  63% of NEW infections report that they've had sex with a man IN 2010 (ONLY).

The medical industry has a poor reputation for fair treatment of homosexuals.  Especially the last generation (those in charge).  The HIV mutation was first introduced during a  human testing immunization experiment in the 80s in NYC–specifically only injected into homosexuals.

kara.mccollum1
kara.mccollum1

@Gogo12 What the hell? Sex is reproduction! And as soon as the majority of the world realizes this, I believe the AIDS epidemic will diminish!

nursekim
nursekim

@willi828  Ohhhhh. "ass play is hardly a gay thing." HMMMMM. I see, gay men don't have anal sex.... which is why Gays are the ones dying of aids at a highter rate than heterosexual men... I see...

misdirection
misdirection

That doesn't make any sense.. how does supporting gay marriage eradicate HIV? You're delusional.

frankiego
frankiego

nah, no one is stopping them from being monogomous now.

  Just because u are not married doesn't mean you are not committed to each other

willi828
willi828

And remember that homosexual men make up less than 5% of the population. When you do all the math, there are just as many straights with HIV and aids as gays.

The difference is that most gays know when they have it because they get tested responsibly. More than half of the heterosexual infections are lurking in the shadows.

Let's also not dismiss that humans are sexual by nature, and mostly bisexual. "Straight," married men often have sex with gay men. Now you're mixing the pot, and we can understand why the cdc calls this Demo MSM

Not homosexual.

jennyct10
jennyct10

@kara.mccollum1 @willi828willi is right, although only 2% of the population are "gay," they are hit with 63% of new infections, meaning that they are infected more often. Probably because of what this article says - it's easier to  become infected with anal sex. 


2% of all straight men in the US have HIV, while 20% of gay men currently are infected with this disease.

StellaBc.
StellaBc.

@kara.mccollum1 @Gogo12 Sex is reproduction? Therefore we shall not allow old people to have sex or people who cannot conceive to have sex? People who don't want babies yet, who don't want anymore babies or don't want babies at all have sex too. Therefore sex is actually not all about reproduction.

willi828
willi828

But shaming a society into the shadows promotes anonymous sex.

lees2002
lees2002

@willi828 Wrong,  Gays get AIDS thru sex.  

Women only get it when they have sex  with a man that has had sex with a man

Everyone else gets it thru tainted blood and IV drug use.

nursekim
nursekim

@willi828  43% of homosexual males have had 500 or more partners over their lifetime.  Shame is what homosexuals should feel for acting like rutting bulls instead responsible sexual human beings.  Gay men have anonymous(unprotected)  gay sex with other men because that's' part of the thrill and turn on for them. Gay sex is more like a heroin addiction.  Gay men are addicted to the drug of anonymous rough male on male sex.  Explains the very high rate of AIDS in the gay men!