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Report Examines Access To HIV Prevention, Care For MSM In Asia Pacific

As “HIV prevalence among gay and bisexual men has hit alarming levels in Asia,” an estimated 90 percent of men who have sex with men (MSM) in the Asia Pacific region lack access to HIV prevention and care, according to a report released Monday by the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP), Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCPM) and the University of Hong Kong’s Center for Comparative and Public Law (CCPL), Reuters reports.

“For example, HIV prevalence among gay and bisexual men in Bangkok was now 30.8 percent compared to 1.4 percent in the adult population in Thailand. In Yangon, the figure was 29.3 percent versus 0.7 percent in Myanmar,” the news service writes (Lyn, 5/17).

The report found “19 of 48 countries in the Asia Pacific region criminalize male to male sex, and these laws often taken on the force of vigilantism, often leading to abuse and human rights violations,” according to a UNDP-APCPM-CCPL press release (.pdf). “Even in the absence of criminalization, other provisions of law often violate the rights of MSM and transgender persons along with arbitrary and inappropriate enforcement, thereby obstructing HIV interventions, advocacy and outreach, and service delivery,” the press release notes.

“The effectiveness of the HIV response will depend not just on the sustained scale up of HIV prevention, treatment and care, but on whether the legal and social environment support or hinder programs for those who are most vulnerable” Mandeep Dhaliwal, UNDP cluster leader on human rights, gender & sexual diversity, was quoted as saying in the release. The release of the report coincided with the International Day Against Homophobia (5/17).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.