This means that many are living with an undiagnosed STI which may put them at higher risk of HIV.9 Men who have sex with men are often not aware of the particularly high risk of having unprotected sex with a person who has recently become infected.
In London, United Kingdom (UK), a study reported that 27% of infections among men who have sex with men were from a partner recently infected with HIV.10 Having multiple sexual partners is more common among this community, and many men who have sex with men do not use condoms consistently.
In sub-Saharan Africa, studies have shown how HIV services that are targeted at, and run by men who have sex with men, have seen the greatest response and uptake.29 This avoids the necessity of attending general healthcare settings, where men who have sex with men risk identity and sexual orientation exposure that could be met with stigma and discrimination.30 Training peers who are part of the men who have sex with men population to educate others, provide prevention commodities and link people to MSM-friendly HIV services has been shown to effectively reach and engage this population.
This prevention strategy works on the basis that there is an elevated sense of trust between members of the men who have sex with men population, whereby fear of stigma is eradicated.31 Organisations staffed by men who have sex with men are also more credible and accessible to recipients.32 Case study: Peer training in the Philippines In the Philippines, one initiative attempted to help civil society engage with local government in the HIV response.
This can make it harder to cope with aspects of HIV such as adherence to medication.24 High HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men around the world is evidence that prevention strategies are failing to reach this group.
Estimates suggest that 4.2% of young (under-25s) men who have sex with men are living with HIV.
This is more common in countries where HIV prevalence among the whole men who have sex with men population is quite high.16 One study carried out in Bangkok found HIV incidence was more than twice as high among men aged 18 to 21 years compared to men over 30 years of age.17 Young men who have sex with men often find it harder to access HIV services, due to age of consent laws or unsociable opening times.
Explore this page to find out more about what factors put men who have sex with men at risk of HIV, HIV prevention programmes, HIV testing initiatives, using technology, access to antiretroviral treatment, barriers to prevention and the way forward for men who have sex with men.
Globally, men who have sex with men (sometimes referred to as MSM) are 24 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population.