Young Men Who Have Sex with Men

by Michael_Koger

Across the globe, there are many public health problems which have to do with young men who have sex with men.

Worldwide, young people between the ages of 10 and 24 are the ones most affected by human immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV) [1]. Much of this stems from variation in laws which pertain to same-sex couples. For example, as of 2014, homosexual sex is a crime in more than 75 countries, and the legal system in seven of those regions punishes these individuals with the death penalty [1].

In reality, the occurrence of HIV is higher in areas where such situations exist than in countries where criminalization of same-sex relationships is not present.

Barriers to Health Care

The potential consequences of stigma and rejection from the community have kept many young men from seeking medical care as they will have to disclose their sexual orientation to a health care provider who may not be willing to accept that.  Additionally, some of them are too ashamed to purchase condoms [1]. 

These awkward scenarios cause many patients to delay inquiries about HIV testing.  Inadequate insurance may also contribute to lack of access to health care.

Moreover, in some parts of the world, residents do not have access to condoms or water-based lubricants.  They are also not able to obtain counseling about sexuality because the materials they receive on that subject are written in a language which they do not understand [1]. 

Inadequate Legal Protection

Discrimination against young men who have sex with men may lead to their job dismissal as laws tend not to protect them.  They may subsequently become vulnerable to unhealthy situations in which their dependence on someone else takes place as a result of inadequate income [1].

Laws which protect people from domestic violence are not identical for same-sex couples and heterosexuals in some places.  In other words, transgender individuals and men who have sex with men do not receive as much protection against intimate partner violence as do heterosexuals [1].

It is also true that in some countries where homosexuality is legal, the age for consent to have sex is higher for same-sex couples than it is for heterosexuals [1].


The situation with young men who have sex with men as well as adolescents and children of any sexual orientation is a major public health crisis everywhere.


  1. World Health Organization.  (2015).  HIV and young men who have sex with men.  Retrieved January 21, 2016.
  2. The photo shows a library at the Centers for Disease Control and is reprinted with permission from that organization.


The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact their physician for advice.

Updated: 01/24/2016, Michael_Koger
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