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Outcomes of a community-based HIV-prevention pilot programme for township men who have sex with men in Cape Town, South Africa

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      IntroductionMen who have sex with men (MSM) in Cape Town's townships remain in need of targeted HIV-prevention services. In 2012, a pilot community-based HIV-prevention programme was implemented that aimed to reach MSM in five Cape Town townships, disseminate HIV-prevention information and supplies, and promote the use of condoms and HIV services.MethodsConvenience sampling was used to recruit self-identified MSM who were 18 years old or older in five Cape Town townships. The six-month pilot programme trained five community leaders who, along with staff, provided HIV-prevention information and supplies to MSM through small-group meetings, community-based social activities and inter-community events. After the completion of the pilot programme, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted with a subset of conveniently sampled participants and with each of the community leaders. Qualitative data were then analyzed thematically.ResultsOverall, 98 mostly gay-identified black MSM consented to participate, 57 community-based activities were facilitated and 9 inter-community events were conducted. Following their enrolment, 60% (59/98) of participants attended at least one pilot activity. Of those participants, 47% (28/59) attended at least half of the scheduled activities. A total of 36 participants took part in FGDs, and five in-depth interviews were completed with community leaders. Participants reported gaining access to MSM-specific HIV-prevention information, condoms and water-based lubricant through the small-group meetings. Some participants described how their feelings of loneliness, social isolation, self-esteem and self-efficacy were improved after taking part.ConclusionsThe social activities and group meetings were viable strategies for disseminating HIV-prevention information, condoms and water-based lubricant to MSM in this setting. Many MSM were also able to receive social support, reduce social isolation and improve their self-esteem. Further research is needed to explore factors affecting attendance and the sustainability of these activities. Perspectives of MSM who did not attend pilot activities regularly were not equally represented in the final qualitative interviews, which could bias the findings. The use of community-based activities and small-group meetings should be explored further as components to ongoing HIV-prevention interventions for MSM in this setting.

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          The Soweto Men’s Study assessed HIV prevalence and associated risk factors among MSM in Soweto, South Africa. Using respondent driven sampling (RDS) recruitment methods, we recruited 378 MSM (including 15 seeds) over 30 weeks in 2008. All results were adjusted for RDS sampling design. Overall HIV prevalence was estimated at 13.2% (95% confidence interval 12.4–13.9%), with 33.9% among gay-identified men, 6.4% among bisexual-identified men, and 10.1% among straight-identified MSM. In multivariable analysis, HIV infection was associated with being older than 25 (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 3.8, 95% CI 3.2–4.6), gay self-identification (AOR 2.3, 95% CI 1.8–3.0), monthly income less than ZAR500 (AOR 1.4, 95% CI 1.2–1.7), purchasing alcohol or drugs in exchange for sex with another man (AOR 3.9, 95% CI 3.2–4.7), reporting any URAI (AOR 4.4, 95% CI 3.5–5.7), reporting between six and nine partners in the prior 6 months (AOR 5.7, 95% CI 4.0–8.2), circumcision, (AOR 0.2, 95% CI 0.1–0.2), a regular female partner (AOR 0.2, 95% CI 0.2–0.3), smoking marijuana in the last 6 months (AOR 0.6, 95% CI 0.5–0.8), unprotected vaginal intercourse in the last 6 months (AOR 0.5, 95% CI 0.4–0.6), and STI symptoms in the last year (AOR 0.7, 95% CI 0.5–0.8). The results of the Soweto Men’s Study confirm that MSM are at high risk for HIV infection, with gay men at highest risk. HIV prevention and treatment for MSM are urgently needed.

            Author and article information

            [1 ]Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, Cape Town, South Africa
            [2 ]Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Baltimore, MD, USA
            Author notes
            [§ ] Corresponding author: Elizabeth Batist, Anzio Road Observatory, 7925 Cape Town, South Africa. Tel: +27 21 650 6969. ( Elizabeth.batist@ )
            [* ]These authors contributed equally to the work.
            J Int AIDS Soc
            J Int AIDS Soc
            Journal of the International AIDS Society
            International AIDS Society
            02 December 2013
            : 16
            : 4Suppl 3
            © 2013 Batist E et al; licensee International AIDS Society

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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