Challenges and opportunities of HIV/AIDS prevention among LGBT/MSM at local and regional level in Ukraine
Background: Nikolaev Association for gays, lesbians and bisexuals “LiGA” was registered on 26.12.1996, mission is integration of LGBT-communities into Ukrainian society by means of the lobbying, provision of informational/psychological/legal services, awareness raising and promotion of healthy lifestyle, as well as development of partner relationships with governmental and social structures at the national and regional level. We are Members of the Municipal and Regional Coordination Council.
Methods: HIV/AIDS prevention measures include primary and secondary prevention,access to competent services and qualitative information, free distribution of means of individual protection,account of the psychology of (un)safe sexual behavior, needs assessment,referral system to medical specialists, work on outreach routes.
Results: We conduct researches about the HIV-status of MSM in Nikolaev. According to our research, conducted in 2007 among 210 MSM living in Nikolaev region, it was found that only 5 persons were HIV-infected. So we concentrated preventive work among MSM for reducing the risk of infection with HIV/STIs.
A mixture of definitions in HIV/AIDS prevention work we find problematic. Sometimes the term “MSM” is used incorrectly. One speaks about MSM but actually it’s so-called “group-bridges”-people not identifying themselves with LGBT. It takes much time to reach this group.
Still there´re a lot of fears for our beneficiaries. They’re faced with discrimination and stigma in every day life. Discrimination because of HIV-status is deeper. At the national level there is an opinion that all gays are HIV+ and spread the infection around. These prejudices are deeply routed and not easy to change. Since 2007 “Liga” started to conduct practical seminars for students on sexual health/behavior.
Conclusions: Work at the local/regional and national levels has its positive and challenging sides. Problems of local cooperation are remainder of results at the local level. Problems of regional cooperation are unwillingness of authorities to cooperate. Problems of national level are implementation of programs not corresponding to real local situation.
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