HIV has a devastating impact on men who have sex with men (MSM) in Nigeria.
“[B]ecause of stigma, discrimination, homophobia, and criminalization that MSM face in the course of their lives in many African countries, many are reluctant to access health care services and participate in research thus heightening their vulnerability to HIV infection,” says an article from the June 1 issue of the Journal of Acquired Immonudeficiency Syndromes (JSAIDS).
Led by PSI’s Lung Vu, the researchers found MSM to practice very high-risk behavior: having more than one sexual partner and high rates of unprotected sex, as well as many who have sex with both men and women. Many of these men suffer with internalized homophobia and are therefore less likely to access HIV prevention and treatment services. The researchers call for a combination prevention approach which includes biomedical (such as HIV counseling and testing and condoms), behavioral (such as mass media campaigns and education programs), and structural (such as advocacy to change discriminating policies) interventions.
In Africa, MSM are 4 times more likely to be infected with HIV than the general population.
Unlike the catalytic advocacy movements in the United States and other Western countries that have engaged homosexual and other MSM in the fight against HIV/AIDS, African MSM are silenced by social stigma and oppressive policies. In countries like Nigeria, studies find that many MSM live double lives, publicly engaging in heterosexual relationships, including marriage, and same-sex relationships secretly.
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