New Primer for Healthcare Providers Aims to Improve Clinical Care for Men Who Have Sex with Men

Published: May 17, 2011

New Primer for Healthcare Providers Aims to Improve Clinical Care for Men Who Have Sex with Men
Booklet explains unique health needs and sets forth principles of practice for doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers

May 17, 2011 – The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) has published a new primer for doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers designed to improve the quality of clinical care available to men who have sex with men (MSM) across a broad range of contexts.  Released on May 17, the International Day against Homophobia, the booklet identifies stigma and discrimination as key barriers preventing MSM from accessing vital health services.

Entitled “Engaging with Men Who Have Sex with Men in the Clinical Setting,” the primer was developed in response to the unacceptable quality of care offered to MSM at clinics around the world.  High levels of homophobia among clinic staff can lead to negligent care and severe violations of patient rights, such as verbal abuse and confidentiality breeches.  In addition, clinical curricula in many low-and middle income countries fail to include content on MSM health, leaving healthcare professionals with no knowledge of MSM health needs or the ways to address them.   

Such substandard care has been a primary factor in the surge of HIV among MSM around the world as well as lower health outcomes overall.  More than half of MSM globally report that it is difficult or impossible to access vital services like HIV testing and treatment, while HIV prevalence rates skyrocket above 20% in countries like Senegal, Jamaica and Thailand.  Studies indicate that MSM also experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, substance abuse and suicide due to high levels of stress and alienation from social services and support.

The primer aims to improve the standard of clinical care for MSM by providing basic knowledge about homosexuality and MSM health needs, as well as offering a set of principles for effective engagement of MSM in a healthcare setting.  The booklet begins by dispelling common myths about homosexuality and exploring the role of service providers in meeting the needs of MSM.  These needs are then examined in greater detail, with a focus on sexual health, mental health, drug use and violence.  The primer concludes with a roadmap for healthcare providers, providing guidance on leading community-level engagement with MSM and enhancing local capacity to meet MSM needs.

“Healthcare providers play a central part in the well-being of MSM around the world,” said Dr. George Ayala, Executive Officer of the MSMGF. “We have seen how damaging it can be when they are ill-equipped to handle the needs of MSM.  But with the proper tools at their disposal, they have the potential to be an equally powerful force for good.  This primer represents a first step toward that goal.”

The primer is currently available in English, French, Russian and Spanish, available at the following links:

English Version (pdf)
French Version (pdf)
Russian Version (pdf)
Spanish Version (pdf)

The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) is an expanding network of AIDS organizations, MSM networks, and advocates committed to ensuring robust coverage of and equitable access to effective HIV prevention, care, treatment, and support services tailored to the needs of gay men and other MSM. Guided by a Steering Committee of 20 members from 18 countries situated mainly in the Global South, and with administrative and fiscal support from AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), the MSMGF works to promote MSM health and human rights worldwide through advocacy, information exchange, knowledge production, networking, and capacity building.

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