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The HIV problem of the Arab world.
(Blogmensgo, August 15, 2011) The Journal of Public Library of Science (PLoS) on August 2, 2011 published a study indicating that HIV in the Arab world (23 countries in North Africa and Middle East) shows a prevalence much higher in men who have sex with men than the rest of the population. Urgent action is needed now in terms of prevention, control and non-stigmatization of populations at risk, argues the study coordinated by Ghina Mumtaz, the group of infectious disease epidemiology at the Weill Medical College in Qatar.
In many countries, HIV prevalence among some gay and bisexual men is as high as 28% (eg 27.6% in Pakistan). The HIV infection even exceeds 25% of cases in several countries.
Risk behaviors tend to accumulate here and there: the high number of partners (the average varies according to the groups studied, from 4 to 14 different partners during the last six months), low condom use (usually less than 25%), resort to prostitution male or female (in 20% to 76% of subjects on average), substance abuse, etc.. A major risk factor is the stigma of gay and bisexual men, which slows or prevents operations of awareness, prevention and treatment.
It would be simplistic to take for granted that some of the data appears satisfactory. While basic knowledge about HIV / AIDS are quite well understood, the true understanding of the issues is more limited than many gay and bisexual men consider low risk of HIV infection. Thus, 80% are aware of condoms but its protective effects are mentioned by 31% to 51% of respondents, except in Lebanon where 96% of men who have sex with other men know that condoms prevent the HIV transmission during anal penetration.
The study sees a glimmer of hope - at least one initiative to encourage - in the fact that several countries (including Algeria, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan and Tunisia) circumvent social and religious taboos in a manner direct or indirect, NGOs take it upon themselves to inform people on matters relating to HIV.
Mumtaz G., Hilmi N., McFarland W., Kaplan R.L., Akala F.A., et al. (2010) : Are HIV Epidemics among Men Who Have Sex with Men Emerging in the Middle East and North Africa? A Systematic Review and Data Synthesis.