- New HIV infections have been on the rise in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in recent years.
- There is substantial heterogeneity in HIV epidemic dynamics across MENA, and different risk contexts are present throughout the region.
- Overall, the major route of infection in the MENA region seems to be sexual transmission, but a range of challenges limit interventions to determine the actual sexual trends.
- Despite unfavorable conditions, many countries in the region have put significant efforts into scaling up their response to this growing epidemic.
Overall, the major route of infection in the MENA region seems to be sexual transmission. In 2011, heterosexual sex was the most common reported mode of HIV transmission among men in Tunisia (44.4%), UAE (50.0%), Syria (54.5%), Jordan (66.7%), Morocco (81.9%), Kuwait (100%), and Palestine (100%).8However, a range of challenges including (but not limited to) those listed below, limit interventions to determine the actual sexual trends, making the current data unreliable.
- The prevalence data available for KPs are principally derived from passive surveillance data, which tend to underestimate the role of high-risk behaviors because of individuals’ fear of disclosure.9
- There is intense HIV-related stigma and discrimination in the region, which is likely a major challenge for behavioral research.10
- Same-sex conduct is illegal in 76 countries, 19 of which are in MENA. In seven countries, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen, homosexual acts are subject to the death penalty in some cases.6 Other countries, including Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, the Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, and the UAE, either criminalize adult consensual same-sex sexual conduct or have criminally prosecuted lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people under other laws on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.6
- Cultural and religious norms disapproving and penalizing sex between men may contribute to the nondisclosure of homosexual orientation and/or sexual conduct.11
Full article at: http://goo.gl/e48IMn
1Department of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Medical Faculty, Ege University, Bornova, Izmir, Turkey. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2UNAIDS - The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Islamic Republic of Iran. Electronic address: DoroudiF@unaids.org.
3M-Coalition, Yazbeck Center, Achrafieh, Beirut, Lebanon. Electronic address: email@example.com.
4International HIV Partnerships, London, UK. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
5Department of Cancer Immunology and Virology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Electronic address: email@example.com.
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