Homophobia, stigma and HIV in Jamaican prisons.

Published: October 22, 2010

Abstract

Success in addressing HIV and AIDS among men who have sex with men, a key population in the global epidemic, is impeded by homophobia. Homophobia as a barrier to HIV prevention and AIDS treatment is a particularly acute problem in the prison setting. In this qualitative study, we explore HIV and AIDS, stigma and homosexuality in the largest all male prison in Jamaica by conducting iterative in-depth interviews with 25 inmates. Participant narratives unveil a purposeful manipulation of beliefs related to homosexuality that impedes an effective response to HIV and AIDS both in prison and wider society. Findings indicate that homophobia is both a social construction and a tangible tool used to leverage power and a sense of solidarity in a larger political and economic landscape. This use of homophobia may not be unique to Jamaica and is an important issue to address in other low- and middle-income post-colonialist societies.

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