Lack of Sexual Minorities' Rights as a Barrier to HIV Prevention Among Men Who Have Sex with Men and Transgender Women in Asia: A Systematic Review

LGBT Health. 2015 Mar;2(1):16-26. doi: 10.1089/lgbt.2014.0024. Epub 2014 Oct 30.


This study set out to assess the relationship between variation in human rights for sexual minorities in Asian countries and indicators of HIV prevention among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women. To quantitatively measure the relationship between variation in HIV prevention and variation in human rights for sexual minorities, this study developed the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Human Rights Index (an original index with scores ranging from 0.0 to 1.0). Subsequently, this study collected 237 epidemiological and behavioral studies from 22 Asian countries and performed a series of meta-analyses in order to calculate national averages for five indicators of HIV prevention: HIV prevalence, inconsistent condom use, recent HIV testing, adequate HIV knowledge, and exposure to HIV prevention services. A change of human rights for sexual minorities from a score of 0.0 to 1.0 as measured by the SOGI Human Rights Index was correlated with a decrease in unprotected anal intercourse by 25.5% (p=0.075), and increases in recent HIV testing by 42.9% (p=0.011), HIV knowledge by 29.5% (p=0.032), and exposure to HIV prevention services by 37.9% (p=0.119). The relationship between HIV prevalence and variation in human rights for sexual minorities was not statistically significant. Our study found correlations between human rights and indicators of HIV prevention, further supporting the need for increased rights among marginalized populations. The paucity of studies from many Asian countries as well as the disparity in how indicators of HIV prevention are measured reveals a need for increased coverage and standardization of MSM serological and behavioral data in order to better inform evidence-based policymaking.

Keywords: Asia; HIV; MSM; SOGI; human rights; sexual orientation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Asia
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Homosexuality, Male*
  • Human Rights*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Minority Groups*
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking
  • Safe Sex
  • Transgender Persons*