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Globally, men who have sex with men (sometimes referred to as MSM) are 19 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population.This figure is rising in some regions such as Asia.1 During 2011, men who have sex with men accounted for 41% of new HIV infections in Western Europe, 56% in Peru and 63% in the United States of America (USA).2 In Jamaica, one in three men who have sex with men are living with HIV.3 Some nations, especially in Latin America, have progressive attitudes and policies regarding homosexuality and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

This means that many are living with an undiagnosed STI which may put them at higher risk of HIV.7 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.By not testing for HIV, many men who have sex with men are unaware of their HIV status which can mean they are unaware of the need to take protective measures to prevent onwards transmission to others.10 For example, a study in India found that only 30% of a cohort of more than 1,000 men who have sex with men living with HIV were aware of their HIV-positive status.11 Alcohol and drugs are a common part of socialising in some communities of men who have sex with men.Whenever drink and drugs are taken, it can make it more likely that people will have unprotected sex and a higher number of sexual partners, elevating vulnerability to HIV.12 Men who have sex with men living with HIV often become HIV-positive while still young.One major reason for high vulnerability to HIV among this group is that unprotected anal sex carries a higher risk of transmission than vaginal sex.

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This is because the walls of the anus are thin and more easily torn, creating an entry point for HIV into the bloodstream.6 Having a sexually transmitted infection (STI) also makes a person more susceptible to HIV infection.

Estimates suggest that 4.2% of young (under 25 years) men who have sex with men are living with HIV.

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