The global HIV and AIDS epidemic has always been closely linked with negative attitudes towards LGBT people, especially men who have sex with men (MSM); a group that is particularly affected by HIV and AIDS.
“Homophobia continues to be a major barrier to ending the global AIDS epidemic.”
At the beginning of the HIV and AIDS epidemic, MSM in many countries were frequently singled out for abuse as they were seen to be responsible for the transmission of HIV. Sensational reporting in the press, which became increasingly homophobic fuelled this view.
In many countries, stigma and discrimination prevent LGBT people from accessing vital HIV prevention, testing, and treatment and care services. This means that many people are unknowingly living with HIV, or being diagnosed late when HIV is harder to treat.
A global study of MSM showed that young MSM (YMSM) experience higher levels of homophobia than older MSM, obstructions to HIV services and compromises to their housing and employment security.5 The loss of these forms of security often lead YMSM to adopt behaviour that puts them at risk of HIV (such as injecting drugs or exchanging sex for money).
The percentage of YMSM able to access cheap condoms, sexually transmitted infection (STI) treatment and HIV education materials for example was extremely low. Nearly half of those living with HIV were not on antiretroviral treatment, compared to only 17% of older MSM