Under 1% of HIV spending focused on gay men

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Less than 1% of HIV/AIDS prevention spending targets gay and bisexual men worldwide.

Research by UNAIDS from 2006, the most recent data available, shows that only a tiny fraction of the $669 million (£352 million) spent globally on prevention services is aimed at men who have sex with men.

Craig McClure, executive director of International AIDS Society, said:

‘It’s very difficult to provide services to men who have sex with men in countries that don’t acknowledge they exist or criminalize them if they do exist,’ according to Advocate.com.

The figures have alarmed experts, particularly due to the fact that, globally, rates of HIV infection amongst gay and bisexual men are rising at a greater rate than amongst the general population.

Homophobia has been highlighted as a barrier to HIV/AIDS prevention.

At last week’s International AIDS conference in Mexico, U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-moon advised nations to ‘pass laws against homophobia’ in order to slow the spreading of HIV/AIDS.

Writing in the Washington Times, Ban Ki-Moon continued to urge societies ‘to speak out against discrimination and to guarantee the rights of people living with HIV.’

‘Schools should teach respect and understanding. Religious leaders should preach tolerance.

‘The media should condemn prejudice and use its influence to advance social change, from securing legal protections to ensuring access to health care,’ he continued.

Lisa Power, Corporate Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), was present at the conference.

She told PinkNews.co.uk, ‘It but does not surprise me at all to see that prevention funds do not primarily target gay and bisexual men.

‘One of the main foci of the conference was the problem in places where there is stigma attached to gay and bisexual men and HIV positive people.

‘Basically, until you stop persecuting these people, you can’t prevent the spread of HIV.

‘This is a problem particularly in some places in Latin America and Africa.’

Ms. Power also highlighted problems with targeting HIV/AIDS prevention spending on gay and bisexual men in the UK.

She said that, though central government is committed to preventing HIV infection, the groups most in need such as gay men and African migrants may be bypassed by HIV prevention schemes due to decisions made by local health authorities.