Training health workers to increase MSM (men who have sex with men) access to adequate services

Published: August 30, 2010

 Training health workers to increase MSM (men who have sex with men) access to adequate services
I. Nita

ACCEPT Association, Bucuresti, Romania

Issues: Due to invisibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) in Romania and due to absence of formal education related to health issues for gay people, it is not uncommon for HIV counselors and medical professionals to ignore the existence of MSM, to have no knowledge on specific issues related to HIV prevention & transmission among MSM, or to be uncomfortable with discussing homosexual behavior with patients.
On the other hand, most MSM will not inform the HIV counselor or physician about their sexual behavior, either because they are afraid of stigmatization, or because they consider sexual behavior to have no relevance for the provider of a medical service.
Description: We have designed a 2 days workshop for HIV counselors and medical staff, aiming to increase their level of information on issues related to gay health, and to decrease stigmatization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT). In the last 3 years we trained over 400 people – most of them with financial support of GFATM. The poster will present workshop’s structure as well as the objectives &outcomes of each session of the workshop.
Lessons learned: Participants perceive the workshop to be relevant and useful for their work; sometimes the workshop was evaluated as a “life changing experience”. Most valued understanding is obtained during “questions and answers” sessions, when participants can relate directly to LGBT volunteers. The effect of this activity on LGBT volunteers seems to be beneficial for their self esteem, no mater what questions or individual attitudes they face. When deconstructing stereotypes, approaching MSM issues integrated in a broader LGBT perspective increases the intervention’s impact.
Next steps: the workshop can be replicated in other countries where the high level of institutionalized homophobia leads to medical and psychological services that ignore MSM health needs.

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