HIV risk and human rights violations among Ukrainian gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM)

Published: July 22, 2010

HIV risk and human rights violations among Ukrainian gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM)

Z. Kis1, T. White2

1Tochka Opory | Fulcrum, Kyiv, Ukraine, 2All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV, Kyiv, Ukraine

Background: Reliable research and information on HIV+ MSM in Ukraine is limited, mostly ‘grey’ and anecdotal. A survey was conducted to understand human rights issues faced by HIV+ MSM. The questionnaire is based upon the Cape Town surveillance model.
Methods: Between 1 st July 2009 and 31st October 2009, a standardized questionnaire was distributed to providers of HIV+ MSM support services. MSM could complete the questionnaire anonymously and return it in sealed envelopes. A problem was the perceived lack of confidentiality. Many feared the questionnaires would be passed to the authorities, some felt it was a form of entrapment.
Results: 238 MSM participated, 56.72% reported being HIV+ (n=135), 21% did not know their status (n=50), 17.64% said they were HIV- (n=42) and 11 declined to answer the question. 90.7% (n=216) were in a relationship with a man and 13.6% with a woman. Diverse discriminations were lived or perceived by the respondents, because of being a gay man or MSM: 17.22% (n=41) have been raped, of which 87.8% (n=36) did not report it to relevant authorities; 40.7% (n=97) are afraid to seek health services and 15.39% (n=38) are afraid to walk in their community. 21.1% (n=48) have been blackmailed, 8.08% denied housing. Out of 25.6% (n=62) who have been beaten because of their sexuality, 13.30% (n=6) by their family, 22.22% (n=10) by their sexual partner, 11.11% (n=5) by their classmate, 22% (n=10), by the police.
Conclusions: Human rights violations of MSM in Ukraine are clearly documented in this survey. It shows that men do not have an effective access to health care and HIV prevention services. MSM live in a culture of fear and deep stigmatization.

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