Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Men Who Have Sex With Men Risking STD's

The risk of sexually transmitted diseases for MSM's is very high. Gay men are already taking precautions and have been as individuals and as a community since the 1980's. However, straight men who have sex with men are not doing so.

In The Windy City Times is the following article talking about the stigma of male-male sexual encounters and how this stigma puts these straight, gay and bisexual men at risk:

Empowering Men Who Have Sex With Men to Fight AIDS

In 85 countries of the world, it is illegal for men to have sex with other men. Male-male sexual relationships are stigmatized, driving men to hide their activities from friends, family members and health workers, according to a recent report by the International Lesbian and Gay Association. Because these men are forced to live part of their lives underground, they often lack access to basic services and, as a result, are at increased risk of HIV/AIDS.

Men who have sex with men ( MSM ) is a term that applies to those who identify as “gay,” but it also includes many MSM throughout the world whose gender and sexual identities defy Western categorization. For instance, in India there are at least three designations: “Kothis” are effeminate MSM who may nonetheless be married to women and have families; “panthis” are masculine men who have sex with kothis; and “hijras,” who are often castrated, are often considered to be a third gender altogether.

While these groups often do not identify as a cohesive community, they share a vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. Men who have sex with men are among the most vulnerable populations to HIV transmission worldwide, and yet they continue to be one of the most underserved. Today, fewer than one in 20 MSM has access to basic HIV education, prevention services or care. Many will die of AIDS simply because appropriate programs to support them do not exist.

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