Evidence of the mobilization of the 'men having sex with men' (MSM) community in Africa

Published: August 1, 2008

Evidence of the mobilization of the ‘men having sex with men’ (MSM) community in Africa

Issues: Until very recently, the HIV epidemic in Africa was considered as exclusively heterosexual. Recent surveys have alerted the international community to significantly higher seroprevalence rates for African MSM (which is more than twenty times higher than that of the general population in Senegal). However, increasing awareness in the MSM communities remains difficult.

Description: AIDES, the largest French AIDS Community Based Organization (CBO), has developed partnerships with African CBOs to strengthen their capacities in advocacy for universal access to treatment and comprehensive care of people living with HIV/AIDS. Some of these CBOs expressed the need for information exchange on practices of HIV prevention and care among MSM in Africa: in October 2007, AIDES organized a week long meeting in Burkina Faso gathering CBOs and MSM associations from 9 countries in French-speaking Africa. Out of 28 participants, 16 declared themselves to be MSM. They had been identified through LGBT international networks, word of mouth and connections between local CBOs and gays (who were mostly met at dating locations). The encounter of MSM organisations and CBOs created an informal working partnership called “africagay”.

Lessons learned:
– Most CBOs face a lack of knowledge about MSM prevention and care, and therefore barely engage in MSM services.
– MSMs need CBOs for specific comprehensive care services.
– MSM groups can be easily identified through peers at gay dating locations and gay websites.
– Given the opportunity, African gays can enrol in CBO prevention programs within MSM communities.

Next steps: To encourage emerging mobilization and consolidate the willingness for commitment from the participants. AIDES shall provide technical support for the implementation of the common action plan. To advocate for the acknowledgement of sexual minorities in Africa, at international and national levels. Moreover, HIV prevention and care for MSMs shall be developed and sustained both in African national public health policies and international programs.

-Abstract available at link below-

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