HIV Still Disproportionately Hurts Gay Men Worldwide, Hopkins Study Finds

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While other populations have seen alarming rises in their HIV rates, gay men still bear the burden of HIV more than other groups worldwide–in part due to discriminatory laws–according to recent research out of Johns Hopkins.

In 2012, Chris Beyrer, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and president of the International AIDS Society, wrote an invigorating call-to-action in The Lancet, noting that men who have sex with men bear a disproportionate burden of HIV, and yet “they continue to be excluded, sometimes systematically, from HIV services because of stigma, discrimination, and criminalisation.” That article called for steps to right this wrong, including increased funding and policy reforms.

Four years later, Beyrer and his co-authors find that not much has changed. One big stumbling block has been access to pre-exposure prophylactic drugs (PrEP), which can help limit the transmission of the disease. The drugs are available in the U.S., but racial and economic disparities persist in who has access to them. And in other countries, like the U.K., they’re not available. Other big issues include discriminatory laws targeting gay men.

“It’s a tragic situation and it’s painful that the history of AIDS is looking like its future, but that’s actually where we are,” Beyrer told the Hopkins Hub. “But the first step in taking on a problem is recognizing and articulating it, and we’ve really done that here.”

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