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HIV in men who have sex with men in Lebanon: clinical and psychosocial aspects
  1. Ismael Maatouk1,2,
  2. Rusi Jaspal2
  1. 1 Dermatology, Clemenceau Medical Center affiliated with Johns Hopkins International, Beirut, Lebanon
  2. 2 De Montfort University, Leicester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ismael Maatouk, Dermatology, Clemenceau Medical Center affiliated with Johns Hokins International, Beirut, Lebanon; ismaelmaatouk{at}gmail.com

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A concerted global effort to end HIV transmissions is necessary. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), men who have sex with men (MSM) constitute a hard-to-reach population, due to the social stigma and criminalisation of homosexuality in most countries.1 When compared with other MENA countries, Lebanon is one of the safest for sexual minority groups. Its capital city, Beirut, is one of the most socially progressive cities in MENA, with a vibrant MSM community and gay bars, clubs and community centres.2 Yet, we know little about HIV prevalence, incidence and risk factors in MSM in Lebanon, a group disproportionately affected by the condition. This editorial sets an agenda for HIV research in this key population.

HIV care in Lebanon is offered through a collaboration between the National AIDS Control Program (NACP) (jointly funded by the Lebanese state and the World Health Organization) and various non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The NACP provides the NGOs with training, and provides access to HIV testing, and antiretroviral therapy for Lebanese citizens and refugees. Sexual healthcare is available through gay-friendly NGOs which are widely known in the Lebanese gay community as a space for accessing low-cost sexually transmitted infection testing and sexual healthcare. The cost of comprehensive care, clinical monitoring of HIV patients, and the treatment of other health issues (eg, mental health) are not covered by the NACP, which can …

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