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WHO accused of ‘perpetuating gay stereotypes’ with PrEP announcement

  • sarahlizzy

    They also said transgender women were just at much as risk as IV drug users.

    I am a transgender woman. I’m also a regular blood donor. I think they need some nuance here.

  • Truth

    Worldwide, HIV is a predominantly heterosexual disease. Will the WHO be recommending the same precautionary measures for, say, Africans …?

    • gutaitas

      Exactly! Or for Catholics who pay attention to what the Vatican has to say about condoms!

    • David H

      That angers me as well. I believe the African hetero community has the single largest HIV infection rate of anyone, but but it’s just easier to target gay men. No big surprise I guess given that the sole qualification for any position with the UN these days is that you’re a homophobe.

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    • Mario

      While I agree with this statement, I do think that the statistics speak for themselves. The idea that being HIV positive is okay, among the gay community is also destroying the community. I think gay men do need to take a long look in the mirror. The stereotypes are not created by the WHO, but are perpetuated by gay men themselves and this saddens me deeply.

      • Jesus_Mohammed

        Mario, you’re forgetting all those 100s of 1000s of gay men out there who are in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and who are ordinary people living ordinary lives, who have long ago settled down, and who are not jumping from one man to another like insatiable satyrs. In addition, there 1000s of younger gay men who are not promiscuous. It saddens ME deeply that you, though presumably gay, are not aware of the reality of “the gay community”. It does not consist entirely of those brainwashed young morons who spend all their leisure hours in late-night clubs seeking pleasure.

        • Mario

          Then why do these statistics show the opposite then? Plus, having spent some time on ‘the scene’ and among gay men, there are a lot of gay men who live in such a irresponsible way. Taking drugs, sleeping around. The scene is full of it.

        • TomSatsuma

          “In addition, there 1000s of younger gay men who are not promiscuous.”

          It only takes one time to catch – and when you are sleeping with someone from a group where 1 in 7 have it (London figures) the risks are higher.

          I’ve spoken to people who work in sexual health who have argued that the massive rush to say ‘straight people get it too’ and avoid accusations of a ‘gay plague’ has done a lot of damage to the gay community, where increasingly people just don’t understand quite how disproportionately it affects us.

          Over half of new cases of HIV have one trait in common – they are men who have sex with men. Sure – not all men who have sex with men will share the same level of risk, but that’s still the defining feature they share. To not then try to tackle this issue by targeting this group is painfully naive and wildly irresponsible.

  • Peeps99

    Hmmm, damned if you do and damned if you don’t I guess. I often claim MSM are overlooked when discussing HIV for fear of causing inadvertent offence. Tough, too serious an illness to pussyfoot around with. Whatever it takes to lower rates of infection across the board, including among MSM, certainly in the West (that is, regional targeted marketing is required). I do fear a lot of HIV prevention is targeted at lower risk groups than those of at higher risk – young (gay) men in the UK in particular. Now if that causes offence, like I say, tough. Need to get the message across

    • Bobbleobble

      What message though? That everything will be ok so long as we all take a potentially damaging and expensive cocktail of drugs? Is that really the message we should be giving?

  • Jay

    How about WHO recommends schools provide compulsory sex education with no opts out of depriving gay and lesbian kids an education of how to be safe having sex. How about WHO recommends that governments and schools do everything possible to ensure LGBT kids are made aware that they are normal, can contribute to society and should never feel stigmatised or sided.

    If WHO tackles the entrenched homophobia and lifts bars that stop education of gay kids… it will go a long way to stop gay men acting recklessly.

    • Truth

      Exactly! Ignorance – usually caused by relgious sensibilities and self-interest – is the REAL culprit in the spread of HIV. If the Vatican had given an unequivocal message about condom use twenty-years ago, maybe the number of new cases could have been halved in the developing world. Oh yes – religion has MUCH for which to answer ….

      • Only for that reason one would hope all those religious tales to be true… How I’d love to see them all try to defend their actions in life once they face the pearly gates…

    • May I suggest you read the full recommendation from the WHO rather than media snippets that have messed up the real story and misleading comments from some posters – see here for how bungled the stroy has been:

      The short version of the WHO recommendation is available here:

  • Darren

    Our community (gay) is so full of double standards, it’s hilarious. The fact is, HIV rates are rising year on year, faster every year, with gay men in the Western world. Even though I disagree strongly with WHO endorsing PrEP amongst gay men, it is gay men in the western world who predominately need to worry about HIV (especially from MSM, they are riddled). Use a condom. It’s simple, not rocket science

    • Jesus_Mohammed

      What the WHO ought to be doing is throwing its weight and billions of dollars behind locating a CURE for everybody on the planet who is infected with HIV!

      Rather than demand sticking plasters be applied to all gay men in the world, it would be far wiser, and far less judgemental of those at the WHO, not to mention far less prejudicial, to go for the killer wielding the knife!

      It is not outside the realms of possibility that the pharmaceutical companies will be delighted to have every homosexual man on the planet taking highly expensive drugs until they die.

  • Jesus_Mohammed

    Well done, Patrick McAleenan. Yes, it’s outrageous that such an august body as the World Health Organization should imply to the world that ALL homosexual men are PROMISCUOUS and that therefore ALL homosexual men SHOULD be on highly toxic antiretroviral therapy for the rest of their lives.

    But where is the voice of Stonewall? Where is the voice of even the Terrence Higgins Trust? Why aren’t they expressing disgust at the appalling blanket recommendation of the WHO?

    Both Stonewall and the Terrence Higgins Trust are USELESS and GUTLESS organizations, that do not act on our best interests, and they ought to be wound up immediately.

    We need proper representation.

    • JackAlison

      Its not outrageous to want to protect gay men. But its more to do with the fear of spill over into the straight population in the west. As far as Africa is concerned they could care less…straight or gay. I find it remarkable that a governing world health body would be suggesting medication that is not anything like taking a headache tablet. Like it or not many of these medications can have serious side effects on healthy gay men who may be HIV positive but have NOT contracted AIDS. these medications certainly NUKE the virus but at an enormous health cost and on life expectancy to the healthy body. they are not to be taken lightly. but I guess because youre gay it dont matter….mmmmmmm?!

      • Guest

        I agree. Does the WHO not know how damaging PrEP drugs can be, particularly on the liver?

      • Jesus_Mohammed

        Yes, it’s not outrageous to want to protect those gay men who need protecting, but it IS outrageous to say that all gay men need to be protected.

    • Mikeylano

      I agree. Does the WHO not know how damaging PrEP drugs can be? They are particularly harsh on the liver.

  • I’m torn on this. On the one hand it’s not helpful to rail against the scientific data and facts, on the other I do not want to be tarred as a promiscuous person simply because I’m gay.

    The problem is that we cannot deny the truth. The truth is that men who have sex with men are more prone to infecting HIV than other groups, and it’s true that more of these men have unprotected sex than a comparable number in heterosexual society – or at least infection rates are far higher.

    Like it or not, the WHO is acting on scientific and statistical data. This is their job. Don’t blame them for telling the truth, blame those who will accuse you of being something you’re not. Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you sleep around and have unprotected sex, no more than it means you love Kylie, work out or wear jock straps.

    • Brian Apple

      WHO is being prejudicial. It assumes that all gay men are out-of-control sex maniacs. It’s a form of anti-gay prejudice.

      • No, that’s how you are translating the factual information.

        It’s disappointing, yes, but it’s FACT nonetheless. It’s like anti-drug campaigners and the Tory government refusing to accept that Marijuana isn’t as dangerous as Nicotine or Alcohol, and refusing to accept reality because of the associated stigma.

        We SHOULD be making decisions based on science and facts rather than our emotive opinions. That’s what the WHO is there for.

        What’s the alternative? Ignore the truth in case it offends someone, and allow another hundred thousand people to live in ignorance without protection or treatment? Yes, that’s really going to help.

        Like it or not, HIV affects more men who sleep with men and have unprotected sex than other groups of people. You can complain to those who do it, and complain to those who accuse you of being in that group just because you’re gay, but you cannot complain about the WHO basing their advice and policy on science.

        • Jesus_Mohammed

          No, BlokeToys, the WHO have made a recommendation regarding ALL gay men, and that recommendation is outrageous. I am embarrassed by it. I know old gay couples in their 60s and 70s, entirely unconnected with the hedonistic world of seedy inner London, and they absolutely no NOT deserve the judgement of the WHO that THEY should all be taking highly toxic antiretroviral therapy.

          The WHO is off its head to have made such an announcement. Their announcement informs us that they see every gay man as following one promiscuous pleasure-seeking model!

          Is the WHO saying that Alan Duncan, or Peter Mandelson, or Elton John and David Furnish ought to be on antiretroviral therapy, taking a highly toxic triple therapy every day of their lives for the rest of their lives? Yes, it is! Surely you see that that is not only daft, it is deeply insulting.

          Think of the message being sent out to youngsters, to the parents of youngsters. “All gay men need to go on antiretroviral therapy”! What does that imply? A mother and father hearing that their 15 year old son believes he is gay will think, “Oh, dear, that means he’ll need to go on antiretroviral therapy for the rest of his life!”

    • TomSatsuma

      Good to see a sensible comment – scientists work on FACTS and the fact is that, in general, gay men are more at risk. Even if you don’t participate in risky sex, the sex you do have will be within a group that is a higher risk so the risk is automatically higher anyway.

      We can go on and on about how ‘straight people get it too’ but let’s be honest with ourselves and look at the figures – we are far far more at risk.

      • Jesus_Mohammed

        Excuse me, “gay men are more at risk”? I know gay men who are at absolutely NO RISK whatsoever! Do you see the problem? The WHO announcement is tarring all gay men with the same nasty brush, and this can only increase homophobia.

        • Mario

          No, gay men are tarring themselves. if 50% of gay men are the ones catching HIV, what does that tell you?

        • TomSatsuma

          Do you understand statistical data?

          I’ll stick with scientists over internet warriors who can’t grasp the difference between statistical groups and individuals.

  • Brian Apple

    WHO is putting gay men’s lives at risk by encouraging the use of drugs with dangerous side effects. One wonders if the board at WHO is populated by people who are employees of the drugs firms that will profit from the sale of these drugs.

    WHO is also homophobic because it is making prejudicial statements about behaviour associated with male homosexuality.

  • Brian Apple

    The reason for the spread of STD’s is promiscuity. Don’t deny that promiscuity is a feature of the male-male social scene.

    However, just because you are a man who has sex with men, it doesn’t mean you are automatically at greater risk than anybody else of catching an STD. It depends on the choices you make. It’s the choices which increase risk.

    The problem with WHO’s stupid statements is that they are based on the idea that every man who has sex with men is an out-of-control satyr with an inability to control his behaviour.

    • TomSatsuma

      “just because you are a man who has sex with men, it doesn’t mean you
      are automatically at greater risk than anybody else of catching an STD”

      Yes it does, because the group of people your partner(s) comes from is more likely to have the disease in the first place.

      If you are always safe then it shouldn’t be an issue – but the risk is still higher, generally speaking.

      • Brian Apple

        Nonsense. Gay men are not automatically more likely to have an STD. Your blanket statement is very concerning.

        • TomSatsuma

          They are more likely to be at risk of HIV, generally speaking.

  • VP

    Leaving aside the issue of whether this recommendation panders to stereotypes, how on earth would it work? If the people at risk are too lazy or ignorant to use a condom – which is very cheap and easy – then why would you expect them to be fine with taking a course of several expensive and occasionally nausea-inducing drugs twice a day for months on end?

  • Sean Knight

    I have read the other comments and would like to point out some FACTS. While it is true that not all gay men are promiscuous, there is a large number who are; those people may also engage in drug-sex or drunken-sex; in those situations condoms may not be used or may not be available.

    Yes, all of you self-righteous people out there, they could change their behaviour, but there are often many psychological barriers to this. In the meantime, using PrEP is one way to reduce their risk of contracting HIV.

    The side effects of the drugs, especially Truvada, are minimal and are not dangerous. Better a small side effect than lifelong HIV.

    Also, many people find that condoms simply do not work for them – by which I mean, the moment the condom is on they either feel no pleasure in sex (lack of sensation), or their erection fails and sex is no longer possible (as a top). These people are at risk because they eventually eschew using condoms simply to have satisfactory sex. Once again, for these people PrEP is an effective way of reducing the risk of contracting HIV.

    Another fact is that among young gay men the rate of infection with HIV is actually increasing. This indicates that, as outlined above, people for various reasons are taking risks and having unprotected sex. Surely the use of Truvada as PrEP is sensible in this respect.

    While the WHO has made these statements “targetting gay men”, they also talk about other specific groups at different times. Choosing to feel insulted and making a fuss about it is obstructionist and unhelpful. WHO is doing their best to attack HIV infection wherever it occurs; a statement aimed at the urban gay community should not be taken as a slur when it is simply trying to address the facts of the matter.

    • Bobbleobble

      If those gay men are too stupid or reckless to use a condom then why would you assume that they’d bother with the tablets?

      Plus PrEP isn’t a panacea that prevents all STDs. There are still plenty out there which can only be prevented from transfer by safe sex. This will simply give gay people a false sense of security as we all end up contracting syphilis, gonorrhea and hepatitis. And whatever you may think, the side effects are not minimal and those taking PrEP on a regular basis require regular check ups and could potentially suffer kidney failure and/or bone density issues. That doesn’t sound minor to me.

      I think my main objection is the blanket way the WHO have made this statement. It does demonise gay men, it says to the straight population that gay men are a threat which I don’t think is particularly helpful either. Promiscuity, not simply being gay, is what spreads HIV but you wouldn’t have got that message from what a WHO said. And flinging medication at a problem is dealing with the symptoms not the cause. The only way to improve the situation is proper education but they won’t recommend that for fear of upsetting religionists.

      • Sean Knight

        Please advise your cure for gay promiscuity. It’s going to happen; anything that reduces the risk of contracting HIV in the first place is a good thing. Other STDs can be treated, and regular testing is always sensible. As someone who has been taking antiretrovirals for over 20 years I can assure you that for most of them the side-effects are in fact minimal. What is your personal experience?

      • Sean Knight

        And not using a condom does not necessarily reflect recklessness or stupidity, as I pointed out in my original post. There are many reasons why someone may not wish to use a condom. Yes, they could abstain. But that argument is as facile as the Christians who would have all gay men abstain from sex forever.

      • Sister Mary Clarence

        So whose fault is it so many young people are receiving no worthwhile, or in some cases no worthwhile or otherwise education about HIV?

        Another article on this site details research that shows a third of young people do not know that HIV can be contracted through unprotected sex.

        Its seems you are blaming people for not knowing what they have never been taught.

        That seems a tad twisted to me matey.

        • Rob

          Very well said Sister Mary.

    • Brian Apple

      PrEP is a money-making scheme for Big Pharma. If one is stupid enough to take PrEP, one deserves every STD in the book.

      • Sean Knight

        I don’t believe your first statement, and I consider your second statement to be judgemental and self-righteous. Do you enjoy sex at all?

  • TomSatsuma

    Far more important that we not hurt gay men’s feelings than try to prevent the spread of a deadly disease…

    They are NOT saying all gay men are promiscuous – they are saying that we have 19 times more likelihood of having HIV.

    No amount of whining will change that fact.

    • Bobbleobble

      Actually I’d say it’s far more important not to demonise gay men and turn them into a target. The WHO’s statement is barely one step away from saying all gay men should be taken to an island and left there to save the straights.

      • TomSatsuma

        Yes… yes, it’s exactly like that…

        Jesus H Christ…

        • Bobbleobble

          Not exactly like that, one step away. Still reading comprehension isn’t easy for everyone.

          I’m genuinely worried about the implications of this statement and where it might lead. How would it be monitored, who’s going to pay and what happens if it doesn’t make a difference or at least not a big enough one, what do they recommend next?

          • TomSatsuma

            I’m just not willing to engage with someone who doesn’t think that level of hyperbole is laughable.

          • Jesus_Mohammed

            Sorry, Mr. Satsuma, but it’s you who isn’t thinking outside of your own world of experience. You’re not thinking apparently of all those many types of gay men who do NOT need to be on antiretroviral therapy and who will NEVER need to be.

          • TomSatsuma

            Yes, and that means recommending potentially life saving drugs to an at risk group is almost the same as death camps…

          • TomSatsuma

            P.s. I’m married and not on the gay scene… so don’t speculate about my own world of experience. As far as I know the drugs are not compulsory.

          • and that is not contradictory with what the WHO said, which is NOT for ALL gay men to TAKE antivirals, but a RECOMMENDATION to CONSIDER PrEP as ONE option.

            Most of your postings on the subject are off-topic and are damaging for those who would benefit from PrEP.

            There, is the irresponsible behaviour.

    • Jesus_Mohammed

      You’re too accepting. Where does that number 19 come from? Does the WHO knows the total number of gay men in existence on the face of this planet? Of course not! Their announcement has failed to take into account all those 100s of 1000s of gay men who are not part of the stats of those people who are unfortunately infected with HIV!

      • TomSatsuma

        Keep living in denial. Gay men as a group are far far far more likely to get HIV. You’d think we’d want to do something about it.

        I don’t know that Prep is the answer – I don’t know about side effects – but I certainly know that coming on here and shouting ‘we are not all like that’ isn’t working.

  • Rob

    Like the clamour by paid lobbyists and doctors in the pockets of big pharma to push for everyone over 50 to be on statins, the new push by WHO and indeed our own sexual health charities for PrEP to be readily available to all gay men is a total and utter disgrace bordering on insanity. In short a scam designed to enrich the coffers of the pharma industry. How did the safe sex messages to always use condoms ever get so warped, corrupted and distorted to the point where gay men are now being encouraged to intoxicate themselves on a regular basis rather than slap on a harmless rubber? A return to back to basics HIV prevention procedures that advocate common sense practices is urgently called for or the next generation of gay men will be sleepwalking into a future of HIV medication cocktails and all the complications they imply regardless whether or not they are infected.

  • Sister Mary Clarence

    Well, well, well. I see for the most part we are outraged.

    Were we all living in a perfect world were everything was done as it was supposed to be. Everyone received and understood the appropriate levels of (sex) education, everyone took it on board, abided by and followed what they had learned. Everybody acted responsibly, and accidents never happened. No one lapsed their guard through drug or alcohol use. Everything worked how we would all like it to.

    Reality of course is poles apart from this utopia. Reality is that huge numbers of people are still getting infected, often by people who if there were receiving treatment would be unable to infect others. There is so much wrong, it will take years and years to right …. and I don’t for a second suggest we do not strive in every way possible to make everything that is wrong right.

    BUT personally, until it is right, I am absolutely in favour of using every tool available to us to prevent the further spread of HIV. If a few noses get put out of joint along the way, then so be it. That isn’t the pressing issue. The pressing issue is the continual rise in the numbers of people infected with a disease that we can prevent.

  • Charles

    I disagree with the journalist. For me, what other people may think of Gay men is less important than knowing that they stay healthy.

    I do not understand those who cling on the concept that the majority of people infected with HIV in the while are straight, while playing down the evidence that it 1 in 7 Gay men in London are positive and that is growing.

    Anything that can stop the spread of this virus in my mind is a good thing. And that is after many months of me being opposed to the whole idea. I wish it had been available when I was not using protection and got myself infected.

    • Brian Apple

      You can stay healthy by making wise choices in life – ie no drugs or promiscuity. Same applies to everyone regardless of sexuality.

      • Jesus_Mohammed

        Indeed! “I’m a gay man. I have to be on ART drugs my whole life. No, I’m not HIV. I’m just gay. That’s why I have to be on ART”.

        In other words, to accept this lunatic idea of putting all gay men on drugs is to promote the message that “gay equals diseased”.

  • JackAlison

    When HIV first reared its head there were many scientists called deniers who complained that HIV did NOT match the credentials of being a virus. Now we a situation where the suppressive medication offered is being treated like a VACCINE?! this is highly suspect science and short term gains will mean long term enslavement to whatever whim and fashion the medical profession dreams up. I am highly suspicious of mass medication as the next step will be right wing govts. demand it. mass medication of all gay ppl. like it was a vaccination. NO NO NO!!!

  • JackAlison

    I also have to say our gay betters

  • JackAlison

    who and champagne are very happy to go

  • JackAlison

    I also have to say our gay betters who champagne sip with govt. are very happy to go along with anything as long as they maintain power and prestige despite not really caring about consequences. HIV medication is NOT fashionable and not in any way a substitute for a cure. Its a VERY VERY heavy NUKE alternative that can have terrible side effects on a healthy body.When HIV first reared its head there were many scientists called deniers who complained that HIV did NOT match the credentials of being a virus. Now we a situation where the suppressive medication offered is being treated like a VACCINE?! this is highly suspect science and short term gains will mean long term enslavement to whatever whim and fashion the medical profession dreams up. I am highly suspicious of mass medication as the next step will be right wing govts. demand it. mass medication of all gay ppl. like it was a vaccination. NO NO NO!!!

  • Brian Apple

    The human body doesn’t particularly like drugs. Putting things into your body tends to upset its equilibrium. Even penicillin will kill good bacteria and not just bad bacteria.

    As for WHO, it is making absurd, blanket statements about male homosexuality that border on homophobia. Who needs the Religious Right when you have WHO?

  • Brian Apple

    Honestly, I’m starting to wonder if gay men are going bonkers. Isn’t it enough that many of them already sniff amyl, snort cocaine or pop the ecstasy? Now they want to add PrEP to the mix. Bizarre to say the least.

    It’s truly testament to the notion that the male-male lifestyle – as opposed to orientation – is one great big drug binge.

  • Ger

    Then, they assume that gay guys are unable to control their impulses in the same way as the others. Anyway, this disease can be totally eradicated if people are responsible for their actions. If a guy is not in a monogamous relationship he must always use a condom. Why don’t they use it? I will never understand it. Besides, the promiscuous men should have regular tests and they should inform possible sexual partners about their health status.

  • Maintaining good sexual health is extremely important for all. It requires each person to take responsibility. Sexually transmitted diseases can be drastically reduced and eventually irradiated if every man used condoms, except when the intention is to procreate. Those that demonise sexual activity between a man and a woman or two men; fail to see the beauty and the importance of the marriage of two hearts and minds; or recognise it to be gift of God. The Jews did not eat Pork because you were in danger of food poison. Today many have fridges to keep the pork safe. Therefore to wear a condom to stem the tide of sexual diseases is only logical and common sense.

    • lolsauce

      The Jews did not eat pork because God loves pigs, you big dumb meanie. Just because we have cold storage doesn’t make it right all of a sudden. If you’re an atheist perchance, I’ll have you know that pigs are as sentient as dogs, so you do the math.

      • All God’s Creatures are Precious to God: That being the case; should we eat any of God’s Creatures? Should we do any Animal Testing? I am in God and God is in me. I am Blessed; but I know I am not infallible; which may make me in infallible. Pork meat if not cooked fully can give you food poison; and yes having a fridge does make a world of difference. With regards to the point you make about why Jews did not eat pigs, the reason is pigs do not chew cud and do not have cloven feet and therefore not Kosher and they do not eat fish that does not have fins or scales for the same reason. But thank you for raising the point. In Acts of the Apostles Saint Peter was offered food from heaven three times and refused twice because the food was classed unclean and forbidden by Jewish Law. The third time God said; ” What I have Cleansed; Do not call unclean.” Prophet Joel said: “In the last days; God would pour out His Holy Spirit on all flesh.” Do not therefore call LGBT Community unclean; because God will cleanse and heal them and wipe away their tears of years of abuse; like everyone else. God chooses the despised and rejected to humble the proud and exalt the humble; And this is wonderful in my eyes.

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