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Worldwide HIV-Prevention Services Lacking, Survey Finds

THURSDAY, Dec. 2 (HealthDay News) -- The majority of gay men worldwide don't have access to HIV testing, counseling or free condoms and lubricant, a new study finds.

Researchers conducted an online survey of nearly 5,000 men who have sex with men (MSM) and MSM service providers. Nearly three-quarters of all participants were from low- or middle-income countries.

Only 39 percent of respondents said they have easy access to free condoms and only about 25 percent said they have easy access to free lubricant, while another 25 percent said free lubricant was unavailable. The survey also found that access to other essential services was difficult or impossible, including HIV testing (57 percent), HIV education materials (66 percent) and HIV treatment (70 percent).

Findings of the survey, which was conducted in Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish, were released Dec. 1 to coincide with World AIDS Day. The poll was conducted by the Global Forum on MSM & HIV.

"Since the beginning of the epidemic, it has been widely recognized that condoms, lubricant, testing and treatment, when combined with community-led behavior change and support programs, are the most reliable tools available in the fight against HIV among MSM," Dr. George Ayala, executive officer of the Global Forum on MSM & HIV, said in an organization news release.

"More than 25 years in, it is inexcusable that MSM around the world continue to have such restricted access to these basic lifesaving resources," he added.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about HIV/AIDS.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Global Forum on MSM & HIV, news release, Nov, 29, 2010

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