The preferred name for methylsulfonylmethane, a dietary supplement that generally comes in the form of a pure white powder much like salt. It tastes even fouler than its name, a bit like epsom salts only worse, with a definite sulfurous bouquet. Dissolving it in large quantities of cold orange juice is about the easiest way to down it.

MSM was first discovered in the late 1970s and was used in veterinary medicine until it recently became popular as a dietary supplement.

Many benefits of MSM have been touted, in particular, quicker healing from injuries, relief of pain, and promotion of healthy joints. Some MSM proponents have really gone overboard in declaring it an absolute cure-all. Scientific studies performed thus far are much more conservative in their conclusions. The LD50 in mice of MSM is 20 grams per kilogram of body weight, far more than any human would possibly eat.

An abbreviation, particularly useful and common in AIDS prevention circles, to designate "Men who have Sex with Men." It's a decidedly unwieldy phrase which makes the abbreviation MSM all the more handy.

It may not be obvious right away what the difference is between being a "gay" man and an MSM. In fact, many MSM's do consider themselves gay, either secretly, or not. However, there are a good number of men who routinely have sexual interaction with other males, and yet, for whatever reason, do not choose to don the "gay" label.

Health workers attempting to prevent the spread of AIDS were missing a large part of their target audience by seeking only those men who were "gay". As they later came to realize, the word "gay" carries a lot of connotations, implications, and baggage that many MSM's reject, like, for example, participation in a "gay community."

Using the term "MSM" attempts to cut through all of the negative connotations of the words "gay" and "bisexual", and simply addresses -- with no moral or social judgment passed in either direction -- the only relevant fact (for healthcare and social workers): does this person engage in relatively risky activities, or not?

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