Issues: The 2005 STI Sentinel Surveillance indicated a concentrated epidemic among MSM in Phnom Penh and in 3 of the 24 provinces of Cambodia, especially among MSM in rural areas. Men´s Health Cambodia (MHC) applied for a small grant from UNAIDS to implement a 1-year project in Kampong Cham, a province not served by any MSM-focused HIV/AIDS intervention.
Description: One of the initial activities of the project was to conduct a needs assessment of MSM in the community. MHC used the ´10 Seeds Approach´ because some of its staff had undergone training on the method. This was cost-effective for MHC and it allowed the staff to practice their new skills. The technique consisted of rapid participatory learning tools to collect qualitative data. Its main component was the use of seeds in the discussions to facilitate ranking and group consensus. Field work was done over 10 days in December 2006, covering 12 villages in the province. A total of 163 people participated.
Lessons learned: Results of the assessment showed that MSM in Kampong Cham had a low level of awareness on HIV/AIDS, STI, condom and lubricant use. Consequently, correct condom and lubricant use was very low. They also had little or no access to health services that will respond to their unique needs. A significant portion of these MSM had multiple sexual partners, both male and female. As in other communities around Cambodia, MSM in Kampong Cham were largely hidden because they are afraid of stigma and discrimination. Lacking their own space within the communities, they were not formally organized and therefore unable to advocate for their rights.
Next steps: The results validated anecdotal data on the situation of MSM in Kampong Cham and the results of this assessment proved to be very valuable to MHC when it planned its future strategies and activities.
-Abstract can be found at link below-