Gay sex among men rampant in Gaborone, Francistown and Kasane
Government could be losing the gains it made on the fight against HIV/AIDS after startling revelations that unprotected gay sex among men was on the boom around the country.
A study released by the National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA) this month has indicated that there was a rise in the number of men having sex with men (MSM) in Gaborone, Francistown and Kasane. Some of these men are married while singles among them are reported to have girlfriends and yet indulging in unprotected anal sex.
Around 781 men in these areas admitted to having sex with other men. The numbers according to the study were higher than those of female sex workers. The study concluded that HIV prevalence among this group was on a high trend. Nurses and health workers have also told researchers they were shocked to see so many men coming to them with anal sexually transmitted diseases.
The study further says men who sleep with men(MSM) who participated in the study were mostly young people and that older men refused to participate.
“Risk behaviours reported confirm the potential for HIV among MSM to bridge with the general population, as respondents had an average of 1 female partner each in the last six months, although only about half the sample had female partners,” reveals the findings.
It is said a significant proportion was not aware of the higher biological risk of HIV transmission through anal sex, and only around a quarter had received any information on anal sex in the last year. “Those who were only the receptive partner in anal sex had a significantly higher HIV prevalence, as well as lower consistent condom use and male circumcision rates. Around two thirds always used condoms during anal sex in the last six months,” revealed the study.
Most of these men are said to abuse alcohol and this led to some not using condoms. “Close to 20% reported ever having an STI symptom in the past year,” said the study.
“The one published study on HIV prevalence amongst 117 MSM in Gaborone found that the HIV prevalence among this sub-population was 19.6 %. The prevalence differed by age, with the highest being among men over the age of 30 years (46.7%).
WHAT DID THEY SAY?
Meanwhile, some of the men who had sex with men opened up to NACA researchers and told them how they go about their business. This is what they said:
PARTICIPANT 2:“Most of them feel not good. For most people it is strange.”
PARTICIPANT 3: “Directors of some companies want sex with men. Low paid employees have a relationship with gay men to meet cost of living. Going to hospital and telling people about my disease is a decision-making process. We don’t have an organization which provides health services to gay men. If one partner refuses, another guy becomes aggressive. Generally it happens during weddings and at drinking places.”
PARTICIPANT 5, “Health facilities are not accessible, e.g. I get STI from another man, but health professionals think that I got it rom a woman. There is no chance to tell that I got an STI from another man.”
PARTICIPANT 6: “It is mostly strangers who are violent… if we don’t give sex.”