Towards empowering MSM/MSW/TG living in rural areas in prevention of STI/HIV/AIDS

Published: August 1, 2008

Towards empowering MSM/MSW/TG living in rural areas in prevention of STI/HIV/AIDS

Issues: MSM/MSW/TG living in rural areas are highly vulnerable to STI/HIV as they have limited access to care, support and treatment. 

Description: Light House is an NGO working with different high risk populations including an MSM/MSW/TG population comprising 4,000 individuals. 

In one rural setting, covering 78 villages across nine upazilas, Light House is working with 800 MSM/MSW/TG whose access to behavior change materials, care and treatment is especially limited. 
Some key features of this population: 
– 49% are MSM, 46% are MSW and 5% are TG;
– 46% are illiterate, 32% completed between 2-5 years of education, 14% completed 6-8 years, 7% completed 8+ years;
– 11% are aged between 12-20 years, 59% between 21-30 years, 25% between 31-40 years, 6% 41+; years
– 32% are engaged in agriculture work, 33% are cook, 10% are day labor and 0.23% are unemployed
– 28% are married.
Between July’07 and Dec’07, 357 individuals received STI treatment, 28 received VCT, and 137,000 condoms and 4,800 lubricant tubes were distributed. This project was funded by UNICEF/World Bank. 
Lessons learned: To find such large numbers of MSM/MSW/TG in a rural area is quite astonishing. In rural communities, there are strict restrictions on male-female friendships and, as a consequence, male friendships are often more intense and sometimes result in same-sex sexual activity. Due to high levels of stigma and discrimination, these MSM/MSW/TG are unable to disclose their identity to anyone apart from their partners.

Next steps: Due to a funding crisis, Light House has had to close this project, leaving these 800 MSM/MSW/TG with an uncertain future in regard to their sexual health. The rural setting makes it especially difficult for them to access STI and VCT services, and lubricant. Light House is currently exploring other funding options to safeguard the interests of this marginalized population.

-Abstract can be found at link below-

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