Breaking the silence: homosexuality and HIV in Haiti

Published: August 1, 2008

Breaking the silence: homosexuality and HIV in Haiti

Background: To explore issues of stigma, discrimination, health and HIV risk among MSMs in Haiti and to increase informed and inclusive public and policy debates around gay men´s health.
Men who have sex with men (MSMs) in Haiti are at high risk of HIV for various reasons. These include multiple sexual partnerships and reduced access to prevention, HIV testing and treatment due to fear of stigmatization and discrimination. A moral and legal environment compounds the vulnerability of MSMs to HIV. The Haitian media plays an important role in disseminating accurate information on HIV and related issues and is a powerful ally in increasing public debate around MSM issues.

Methods:
– Focus group discussion in four major cities in Haiti
– Interview with key organisations working with MSMs
– Individual interviews with MSMS, decisionmakers and health personnel.

Results:
– Publication and dissemination of media brief on MSMs and HIV
– Debate on radio on MSM isuues
– Multiple serial relationships common among MSM in Haiti – many cannot recall the number of partners they had for the last 12 months.
– Vulnerability is reinforced high level of stigma and discrimination
– Services to MSM are very limited
– MSM needs are not addressed by most stakeholders involved in the response to HIV
– Treatment and perception of MSM varies depending of social status.

Conclusions:
– Urgent need to for more MSM focussed interventions in Haiti.
– Hostility toward MSM represents a danger for the collective well-being of the community
– Urgent need to include MSMs among vulnerable population in the National Strategic Plan.
– MSMs need to advocate and lobby to be a strong component of the National Strategic Plan
– MSMs need (through associations) to develop better strategies to influence policies and to promote respect for Human rights.

-Abstract available at link below-

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