The fight against HIV/AIDS in South Africa - the perceptions of men who have sex with men: about HIV/AIDS-related healthcare policies, services, and interventions targeting them

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people shoulder disproportionate levels of marginalisation, poor health access and HIV-disease in nearly every nation where reliable data is available. Much of what is known about medical and civil society-based research in South Africa on HIV/AIDS has mainly been on heterosexual or vertical transmission. Comparatively little is known about HIV and MSM despite MSM in Africa being three times more likely (Adbool Karim & Abdool Karim, 2005) to be HIV-infected than the general population (Lane, et al, 2009). In South Africa, strategies to address HIV/AIDS among MSM were included for the very first time in the 2007-2011 National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan pointing; to the extent to which MSM have been excluded from both national policy and intervention strategies. Using a qualitative approach, this study aimed to explore the perceptions of MSM about HIV/AIDS related healthcare policies, services and interventions targeting them. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with MSM and key informants about HIV/AIDS responses targeted at MSM in South Africa. Findings show that MSM are generally unaware about specific HIV/AIDS-related healthcare policies addressing their needs. Although the majority of MSM are aware of where to access HIV counseling, testing and treatment services, however discrimination, harassment and insensitivity particularly in public health-care settings impaired client or patient rapport, thereby creating barriers to meaningful access and utilization of HIV-related services thereby marginalizing MSM from the health systems altogether.

Includes bibliographical references.