Uganda Health Communication Alliance

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14 in every 100 Men who have sex with Men have HIV

Sep 16, 2011 Written by  Barbara K Asaba

The HIV/AIDS prevalence in men who have sex with men (MSM) in Kampala is substantially higher than among the general male population living in the city, the study has established.

“The Crane Survey,” an HIV and health related surveillance project that focuses on generating HIV-related strategic information is a brainchild of the Makerere University School of Public Health (MUSPH), the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The study that was done among 306 resident in greater Kampala and had anal sex with a man in the last 3 months, established that the group has a prevalence rate of 13.7 per cent. This is too high compared to the 4.5 per cent prevalence in general male population living in the Kampala City.

The survey started in May 2008 and was concluded in November 2008. 306 participants were interviewed whose median age was 25 years, and out of which 94 per cent were Ugandan nationals. On average, MSM participants had 11 years of education, 31 per cent of the participants were ever married, 44 per cent had ever lived with a female partner and 16 per cent were currently living with a female sex partner and 29 per cent have fathered children.

The survey shows that 7 per cent identified themselves as heterosexual, 37 per cent as bisexual and majority 56 percent as homosexual. Also, it established 70 per cent were attracted to mostly or only men, 12 per cent to both men and women and 19 per cent to mostly or only women.

The study also found out 40 per cent used condoms with their female casual partners, 39 percent with female steady partners, 43 per cent with male causal partners and 50 per cent with their steady male partners. 26 per cent never use condoms. 26 per cent reported ever being raped, 37 percent were blackmailed and another 37 per cent reported ever being physically abused.  MSM who were subjected to homophobic abuse are more likely to be HIV-infected than those who did not report such abuse,

The study showed that 53 percent of participant had sex with a steady partner, 49 percent used condoms, and 67 per cent used a lubricant, 47 per cent drunk alcohol before sex, and 13 per cent had used drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, khat, petrol and glue. Only 4 per cent thought their partner was HIV positive.

The study recommends for inclusion of MSM populations in national, strategic HIV/AIDS control planning and programming along with voluntary HIV counseling and testing initiatives tailored to this population, mutually reinforcing prevention interventions must also be targeted to address the needs of MSM, and these interventions should be linked to treatment and care programs.

Additionally, this analysis demonstrates that structural factors—such as existing economic, social, legal, and cultural conditions—contribute to increased risk for HIV infection.  Therefore, prevention activities must address these factors as well.

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