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Young APAC MSM facing HIV epidemic – IAS

in THAILAND, 22/11/2013

Rates of HIV among young men who have sex with men (MSM) in Asia and the Pacific (APAC) are at “epidemic” proportions, a leading epidemiologist has warned ahead of the start of the 11th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific.

“We have an epidemic in this region, among young MSM,” said president-elect of the International AIDS Society, Dr. Chris Beyrer at an event convened by the Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM).

He urged governments and development organisations to move away from a narrow focus on individual-level practices and promotion of condoms alone, to develop more comprehensive strategies to address HIV.

Biomedical approaches to prevention, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) treatments and microbicides, should be encouraged alongside traditional safer-sex messages, to stem high rates of prevalence in the region, he urged.

Rates of new HIV infection in the region remain stable among the general population, but continue to grow among MSM – particularly those aged 18 to 21. It is estimated that, within the next three years, up to 50 percent of new HIV infections in the region will occur within MSM communities.

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