“Our study results are reminiscent of the early days of the HIV epidemic among gay men in North America and Western Europe,” says Elden Chamberlain, Most At Risk Populations and Networks Specialist for the AIDSTAR-Two Project. “Inappropriate reactions and a lack of prevention in local populations led to a 20% annual incidence of HIV infections being reported. This was accompanied by a strong resistance from public health officials to address a health issue among gay men. We are seeing a similar situation today in Eastern Europe.”
The report, titled ‘Men Having Sex with Men in Eastern Europe: Implications of a Hidden HIV Epidemic’, was produced under the auspices of the AIDSTAR-Two project, a USAID funded project. It assessed the risk of HIV/AIDS and HIV programming and service gaps for men who have sex with men in eight countries: Armenia, Albania, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine.
Data from men who have sex with men is reported infrequently and inaccurately and the report suggests that official figures likely underestimate the numbers of men who have sex with men living with HIV/AIDS and acquiring the infection. The report found that funding and coverage levels are insufficient to halt the epidemic among men who have sex with men.
To change the situation immediate action and investment by all stakeholders in the global health community is needed. The report highlights a number of areas for improvement. Firstly, the human rights situation among men who have sex with men in Eastern Europe needs to be improved. Secondly the evidence base needs to the strengthened and promoted by developing a consistent, regional approach to data collection. Finally, comprehensive services for men who have sex with men should be adopted as standard practice in the region.
You can download a copy of the full report from our website in either English or Russian
The situation is reminiscent of the early days of the HIV epidemic among gay men in North America and Western Europe