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      Sexual stigma and discrimination as barriers to seeking appropriate healthcare among men who have sex with men in Swaziland


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          Same-sex practices and orientation are both stigmatized and criminalized in many countries across sub-Saharan Africa. This study aimed to assess the relationship of fear of seeking healthcare and disclosure of same-sex practices among a sample of men who have sex with men (MSM) in Swaziland with demographic, socio-economic and behavioural determinants.


          Three hundred and twenty-three men who reported having had anal sex with a man in the past year were recruited using respondent-driven sampling and administered a structured survey instrument. Asymptotically unbiased estimates of prevalence of stigma and human rights abuses generated using the RDSII estimator are reported with bootstrapped confidence intervals (CIs). Weighted simple and multiple logistic regressions of fear of seeking healthcare and disclosure of same-sex practices to a healthcare provider with demographic, social and behavioural variables are reported.


          Stigma was common, including 61.7% (95% CI=54.0–69.0%) reporting fear of seeking healthcare, 44.1% (95% CI=36.2–51.3%) any enacted stigma and 73.9% (95% CI=67.7–80.1%) any perceived social stigma (family, friends). Ever disclosing sexual practices with other men to healthcare providers was low (25.6%, 95% CI=19.2–32.1%). In multiple logistic regression, fear of seeking healthcare was significantly associated with: having experienced legal discrimination as a result of sexual orientation or practice (aOR=1.9, 95% CI=1.1–3.4), having felt like you wanted to end your life (aOR=2.0, 95% CI=1.2–3.4), having been raped (aOR=11.0, 95% CI=1.4–84.4), finding it very difficult to insist on condom use when a male partner does not want to use a condom (aOR=2.1, 95% CI=1.0–4.1) and having a non-Swazi nationality at birth (aOR=0.18, 95% CI=0.05–0.68). In multiple logistic regression, disclosure of same-sex practices to a healthcare provider was significantly associated with: having completed secondary education or more (aOR=5.1, 95% CI=2.5–10.3), having used a condom with last casual male sexual partner (aOR=2.4, 95% CI=1.0–5.7) and having felt like you wanted to end your life (aOR=2.1, 95% CI=1.2–3.8).


          MSM in Swaziland report high levels of stigma and discrimination. The observed associations can inform structural interventions to increase healthcare seeking and disclosure of sexual practices to healthcare workers, facilitating enhanced behavioural and biomedical HIV-prevention approaches among MSM in Swaziland.

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          Most cited references 59

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              From conceptualizing to measuring HIV stigma: a review of HIV stigma mechanism measures.

              Recent analyses suggest that lack of clarity in the conceptualization and measurement of HIV stigma at an individual level is a significant barrier to HIV prevention and treatment efforts. In order to address this concern, we articulate a new framework designed to aid in clarifying the conceptualization and measurement of HIV stigma among individuals. The HIV Stigma Framework explores how the stigma of HIV elicits a series of stigma mechanisms, which in turn lead to deleterious outcomes for HIV uninfected and infected people. We then apply this framework to review measures developed to gauge the effect of HIV stigma since the beginning of the epidemic. Finally, we emphasize the utility of using three questions to guide future HIV stigma research: who is affected by, how are they affected by, and what are the outcomes of HIV stigma?

                Author and article information

                J Int AIDS Soc
                J Int AIDS Soc
                Journal of the International AIDS Society
                International AIDS Society
                13 November 2013
                : 16
                : 3Suppl 2
                [1 ]Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA
                [2 ]Rock of Hope, Mbabane, Swaziland
                [3 ]Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA
                [4 ]Swaziland National AIDS Program, Mbabane, Swaziland
                Author notes
                [§ ] Corresponding author: Stefan D Baral, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 N. Wolfe St., E 7152, Baltimore, MD 20205, USA. Tel: +1-410-502-0800. Fax: +1-410-614-8371. ( sbaral@ 123456jhsph.edu )
                © 2013 Risher K 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.

                Global action to reduce HIV stigma and discrimination
                Research Article


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