News story

PHE responds to health inequalities facing gay, bisexual and MSM

PHE has today set out the challenge and vision for the health and wellbeing of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM).

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The summary published today (27 June 2014) is the first of a trio of documents which will together provide a framework for action over the coming 6 months.

This important work has identified 3 distinct but overlapping areas of concern, which disproportionately affect MSM - sexual health and HIV, mental health and the use of alcohol, drugs and tobacco. There is an opportunity for a new approach: one that focuses on these 3 areas of greatest need and places them in the context of the life course – from school children through to old age.

Public Health England (PHE) believes this approach will be effective at achieving an overall vision for MSM to enjoy long, healthy lives, to have respectful and fulfilling social and sexual relationships and to significantly reduce the annual number of new HIV infections in MSM by 2020.

Adult MSM are the group most affected by HIV in the UK - with an estimated 1 in 20 living with HIV in 2012, compared to 1 in 667 in the general population. MSM are also at greater risk of mental health problems and unhealthy behaviours and lifestyles.

These health issues and inequalities are shaped by the wider socio-economic and cultural context in which MSM live. They include the experience of, or the fear of, stigma and discrimination across all areas of life – from schools to the workplace. They also include the fact that MSM are less likely to seek help from health and social care services, or to reveal their sexual identity to those providing their care.

The summary document sets out the principal challenges and will be followed in early July with an ‘initial findings document’, made available online, which will more fully set out our findings to date and the task ahead. We look forward to a further period of engagement over the next few months to refine commitments and recommendations for a range of partners leading to our final framework and implementation plan at the end of the year.

PHE would like to thank the large number of stakeholders that have contributed to the initial phase of this important programme of work and who we hope will continue to work with us in the future.

Published 27 June 2014