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Stigma and silence are still characteristics of many gay men’s experiences in Ireland, according to presentations given at the HIV/AIDS and Sexuality: International and Local Perspectives seminar held at Maynooth University today.
The seminar, hosted by Maynooth University to mark World AIDS Day, saw leading international AIDS researcher, Dr. Andrew Tucker from the Anova Health Institute, Africa’s largest health promotion NGO, address attendees on the explicit correlation between homophobia and poor health outcomes amongst the gay community. Based on research conducted through the Health4Men Project in South Africa, Dr. Tucker documents the insidious links between silence, homophobia, depression and risk-taking behaviour that allows the infection to spread amongst the South African gay community.
The seminar also featured contributions from leading Irish researchers, including Professor Gerry Kearns from the Department of Geography at Maynooth University, an expert in the cultural politics of AIDS.
Professor Kearns said: “The stigma associated with AIDS is a huge obstacle in treating its sufferers. While this stigma may manifest itself in a number of ways across different countries, communities and religious groups, its consequences share many of the same traits: a cycle of alienation, psychological damage, depression, low self-esteem and a fear or reluctance to seek help. Dr. Tucker’s research clearly demonstrates that by fighting homophobic prejudice, South African health workers have witnessed drastically better health outcomes amongst gay South African men.”
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