A recent report from amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, reveals that HIV efforts and services in Asia and the Pacific influence “staggeringly few” men who have sex with men (MSM).

Many of the region’s HIV prevention programs and services are directed toward the general population, so MSM are not perceived as a high-risk group despite representing 5 to 20 percent of new infections each year. (More specific data are hard to track because nearly half of 128 countries surveyed don’t report their HIV caseload.)

While Asia’s response to the epidemic largely overlooks MSM, statistics reveal a clear need to act. Regionally, MSM are as much as 25 times more likely to be HIV positive than the general population. Why the disparity? In addition to homophobia at the local, national and regional levels, at least 80 countries in the region criminalize consensual sex between men.

Crime doesn’t pay, but when it comes to HIV prevention, neither does criminalization.