The World Health Organization has issued new guidelines for reducing the spread and impact of HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people. In addition to prevention and treatment interventions such as condom use, behavioral interventions, Internet-based strategies, and anti-retroviral treatment, the guidelines take a human rights approach to ending stigma and discrimination against MSM and transgender people:
Long-standing evidence indicates that MSM and transgender people experience significant barriers to quality health care due to widespread stigma against homosexuality and ignorance about gender variance in mainstream society and within health systems. Social discrimination against MSM and transgender people has also been described as a key driver of poor physical and mental health outcomes in these populations across diverse settings. In addition to being disproportionately burdened by STI and HIV, MSM and transgender people experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, smoking, alcohol abuse, substance use and suicide as a result of chronic stress, social isolation and disconnection from a range of health and support services.
The guidelines are the first to directly address the the epidemic among gay men and transgender people that continues the world over, particularly in Africa, Asia, and Central America. Just last week, the United Nations affirmed LGBT rights as human rights and similarly condemned violence and discrimination against LGBT people. A comprehensive international response to anti-LGBT stigma and misinformation could potentially save millions of lives.