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The Red Alert for Homosexual
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JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com — The HIV/AIDS cases among men who practice same sex intercourse are disconcertingly increasing. This key population tends to be exclusive.

The scope of programs to counter this group is the smallest compared with other groups at risk of HIV/AIDS, such as for needle-sharing drug abusers and female sex workers along with their clients.

This fact was stated by the Deputy Secretary of The National AIDS Commission (KPAN), Kemal Siregar, in a press conference held by the Indonesian Mass Health Expert Association (IAKMI) to socialize the World AIDS Day, Thursday.

The HIV prevalence is 0.22 percent of the population in 2008, but the HIV epidemic, which is multidimentional, has escalated into a "concentrated" level, in which the HIV prevalence is over 5 percent of the key population prone to HIV/AIDS, consisting of female sex workers, needle-sharing drug abusers, inhabitants of correctional facilities, and men who practice same sex intercourse.

The Secretary General of IAKMI, Syahrul Aminullah, said that the epidemic increase would be a social and economic burden. Thus, a political commitment is needed to hamper the spread of HIV/AIDS, including activities of socialization and prevention. "This is for the sake of the younger generation," he said.

The Tendency

Syahrul A. said that one tendency in the HIV/AIDS epidemic is the increase of new infections in the homosexual male group. The HIV prevalence in the homosexual circles is up to 5.2 percent based on the coordinated surveillance result for HIV in 2007, and this is projeted to increase. It is estimated that the number of gays, transvestites, and other men who practice same sex intercourse is 700,000.

Kemal stated that compared to the prevalence among female sexual workers (10.4%), transvestites (24.4%), and needle-sharing drug abusers (52.4%) then the prevalence in the homosexual group is small. However that group is very restricted so the scope of programs can not be maximized, they only cover 9 percent of the group, and the prevalence tends to increase.

Meanwhile, in another key population, such as among needle-sharing drug abusers, the scope of the program has reached 30 percent of the group, and for sexual workers around 50 percent. Though ideally, the scope of the program should reach 80 percent, so there is still a big gap. Furthermore, the male-to-male sexual intercourse has a greater risk for HIV/AIDS infection because the chance of wounding is also higher.

"To anticipate the increase of cases in the male-to-male key group is not easy because they tend to be reticent so intervention is best from activists of their own group," said Kemal.

To increase the low coverage for male-to-male, a comprehensive program is being planned for the future. The program is designed to actively involve the population. (INE/C17-09)

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