MSM Country Snapshot Series: Bangladesh

By December 21, 2012 May 18th, 2020 Policies

Bangladesh is considered a low-prevalence country with 2,533 cumulative reported cases since 1989 and approximately 7,500 people living with HIV.  Routine surveillance has consistently reported HIV prevalence of less than 1.0 percent among the general population and among MSM and male and female sex workers. The country’s epidemic is understood to be concentrated and disproportionately affects male people who use drugs, of whom 1.0 percent are believed to be living with HIV. Between 2008 and 2011, 19 cases of HIV among MSM were reported.

Given HIV patterns in South Asia and because of recent behavioural survey data of MSM in Dhaka, Bangladesh considers MSM one of the focal points in their HIV prevention efforts. In 2009 and again in 2010, the National STD/AIDS Programme and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research (ICDDR) conducted a size estimation exercise of key affected populations that included MSM. Such efforts are beginning to shed light on what is otherwise a poorly understood demographic. Little is known about the nature of male-male sexuality in Bangladesh. Previous exploratory research has consistently found that approximately 2 percent of males engage in same-sex sexual behaviour. Research has found a high prevalence of penetrative sex as well as related risk behaviours among MSM.

Despite popular disapproval of sexual relationships between men, intimate relationships between men are common and sexual boundaries are crossed with relative ease. The socio-cultural contexts in which such interactions occur to determine how MSM perceive and manage sexual risk and thus impact the uptake of HIV services. The snapshot provides more information about priorities for Bangladesh reaching the three zeros, the most recent epidemiological data, behavioural information and programmatic information.