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New Asia Pacific Statistics Reveal an Alarming Incidence of HIV in MSM
Date:11/28/2007

APCOM Ready to Play a Key Role as Governments and Civil Society in the

Region Ponder Urgent Strategies to Tackle the Crisis

NEW DELHI, India, BEIJING and BANGKOK, Thailand, Nov. 29 /Xinhua- PRNewswire/ -- On World AIDS Day 2007, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of men who have sex with men (MSM) will become infected with HIV in cities across the Asia Pacific, becoming the latest statistics in an almost unrecognized but ever-growing crisis that many governments in the region are only just beginning to grapple with. As these efforts take shape, the Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM) is offering its partnership to develop and support new strategies aimed at tackling this regional challenge.

Paradoxically, it may be more challenging for APCOM to draw attention to the MSM HIV issue. The recent adjustment downwards of global HIV and AIDS figures has been construed in some quarters as an indication that the AIDS crisis has been ''exaggerated'' all along. However, APCOM and the stakeholders it represents are urging the Asia Pacific region, and indeed the world, not to confuse the true picture.

Most MSM who contract HIV in city after city in the Asia Pacific region will never know they harbour the virus until they become ill with advanced symptoms. Without that knowledge, they probably will not change the very behaviours that put them, as well as their partners and loved ones, at risk. A recent survey in a major Asian capital suggested as many as 32% of MSM there are HIV positive. In other cities across the region, HIV infection rates for MSM range from estimates anywhere from 5% to 15% or 20% and higher.

''Despite MSM having higher infection rates than the general adult population, the financial investment for HIV prevention, care and support services for this marginalized group across the Asia Pacific is abysmally low in national HIV and AIDS programme planning, usually between zero and four percent,'' says Shiv
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SOURCE Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health
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