Citing ‘exploding’ HIV epidemic, WHO says all gay men should take antitretroviral drugs

Daily Antiretroviral Pill Found To Protect Healthy From AIDS TransmissionAt the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, images of gaunt victims flooded publications and television, igniting a global awareness campaign that would eventually help winnow the annual number of new infections by one-third in the past decade. But those victories have also lulled the general population into a sense of complacency, the World Health Organization warned late last week.

“We are seeing exploding epidemics,” said Gottfried Hirnschall, who leads WHO’s HIV department, according to Agence France-Presse.

Those at the most at risk of being infected — transgender people, men who have sex with men, prisoners, sex workers and people who inject drugs — account for nearly half of new HIV infections worldwide. And because of social or legislative discrimination, they’re also often the least likely to access HIV prevention and treatment centers.

“None of these people live in isolation,” Hirnschall said. “Sex workers and their clients have husbands, wives and partners. Some inject drugs. Many have children. Failure to provide services to the people who are at greatest risk of HIV jeopardizes further progress against the global epidemic and threatens the health and well-being of individuals, their families and the broader community.”

So now, for the first time, the WHO is strongly recommending that men who have sex with other men consider antiretroviral medications to help prevent HIV infection. The approach, called pre-exposure prophylaxis, calls for the noninfected to take a preventive pill every day.

With such treatment, the United Nations organization predicts HIV incidence among gay men would ultimately fall by as much as 25 percent — and avert close to 1 million infections over the next decade. “Rates of HIV infection among men who have sex with men remain high almost everywhere and new prevention options are urgently needed,” the WHO said on Friday.

The likelihood a gay man will become infected is approximately 19 times greater than the general population, the agency reported. But this is not the only at-risk demographic. Female sex workers, WHO estimates, are 14 times more likely to have HIV than other women. And the most high-risk groups are transgender women and intravenous drug users, who are 50 times more likely to be infected than the general population.

Among the biggest problems with plans to combat HIV: They’re not targeted enough. “There are significant gaps in addressing [high-risk group] needs in national HIV plans,” WHO said. It reported 30 percent of countries don’t have any policies to address the risk gay men face — and the same goes for transgender people, who often don’t even warrant a mention in some countries.

Many related problems are rooted in discrimination. Being gay is criminal in 77 countries. Many of those nations — 38 — are in Africa, where large swaths of some populations are already infected with HIV. For instance, homosexuality is against the law in Botswana, where a staggering 23 percent of residents aged 15 to 49 are suffering from HIV.

“Bold policies can deliver bold results,” said Rachel Baggaley of the WHO’s HIV Department. “Data show that where a combination of effective HIV prevention and treatment services for people who inject drugs are available, HIV transmission among people who inject drugs is minimal.”

18 thoughts on “Citing ‘exploding’ HIV epidemic, WHO says all gay men should take antitretroviral drugs

  1. Already running a headache reading this….the travails of men who have sex with men….if someone starts now to swallow pills, won’t the immune system develop a kind of resistance to them or even make it less effective to combact the HIV should it eventually enter the system. Again, I feel taking this pill will make people to be more careless as they would feel that they now have an immunity over contacting the virus when am sure this pill does not prevent it 100%m I think the best way to prevent it is by practicing the ABC of sex…Abstinence…Being Faithful….Condom Use

  2. I do agree with them somewhat. My company partners with the government on provision of anti retroviral drugs, so I do know what the picture is. The main problem here is access to treatment for gay men, whose groups cannot be organized and reached because of these obnoxious discrimination.
    This was why my boss was furious with the anti gay law, because progress has been made. Gay men now had social groups and NGOS and reaching them became a little easier until the law came and scuttled it and drove them underground.
    I think we are all sitting on a time bomb because the gay men who become infected will still marry our sisters and daughters most probably and pass it on.
    We should all take charge of our health, condoms are a must. They significantly reduce risk of transmission, you should always have a condom with you just in case!.
    If you haven’t been tested, please go get tested after reading this so you know where you stand.

    • I had wanted to talk about the social groups. I’m sure anti-gay law or not, u guys can still find a way to partner with them, yeah?

  3. Wht the drugs does,is to prevent the viral replication and translation of DNA’s to RNA’s. If the prophylaxis is taken with strict adherence it gives more than 90% protection. People in my profession do take it,not according to WHO advice on MSM but for 28 days, against accidental exposure,like pin prick and surgical blades cuts. The fear of resistance is not unfounded,but exists when not taken with strict adherence or without professional guidelines. In all sincerity,only few percentage of MSM adhere to ABC rule. Therefore its advisable we all consider the new rule,even me its giving it a thought.

  4. I dont know, but I’d rather advocate wholesome attitudes towards prevention, infection, treatment/coping, instead of ingesting drugs like they’re food. Some ARVs damage the internal organs over time so why would anyone want to take them prior to infection?

  5. This is in light of a post I wanted to make after an experience I had here in the US a couole of days back. My company organised a blood drive and I carried my JJC spirit from Naija go there because I always donate blood at any opportunity I get. I signed up for the blood drive only to get a form with the question “Have you ever had sex with a man even once since 1977”. I honestly answered yes and when I submitted the form I was told that it was a law that any man who has had homosexual sex is banned from donating blood. You can imagine my shock even in America! Why didn’t they just perform a Test for me. Gay men will always be treated like a plague for a very long time. I read online that some people said they don’t want gay people to donate gay blood. I tire oooo

  6. this is everyone’s least favourite topic, nevertheless we cant wish it away!! I personally know from friends who work in the healthcare sector, that STD infection rates have gone wildly out of control, frankly am developing a deep morbid fear of flings. I agree with Absalom, I honestly don’t feel too comfortable ingesting medication on a regular basis, a lot of evidence points to increased risk of organ (esp kidney) damage. we need to be much more vigilant&disciplined about safe sex. The Nigerian govt egged on by an ignorant and gullible as well as brainwashed&idiotic populace shot itself in both feet by passing that obnoxious anti gay legislation, a lot of gay men are scared to access health services and thus infection rates are higher worse still due to the oppressive and intolerant climate, many of them are forced to marry&have sexul relations with women … I shudder to think of the infection rates in years to come.

  7. Away from the ABCs of sexuality for a moment, but who wants to kill Mademoiselle in Forbidden Passions now??? Bianca has gone CRAYZEEEEEE!!!!

  8. This is very disturbing news. The side effects can be worrisome. For WHO to give this directive indicates that the statistics are alarming. Like seriously this is a BIG PROBLEM. How can we help ourselves?

  9. Ingestion of drugs over and over again will lead diminish the well being of the body system in the nearest future. AB3C(Correct and Consistent use of Condom) is still the best policy.

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