Sunday, March 9, 2008

Lesbians and HIV in Africa

Equable weather. The sun not so hot as mild, a breeze from the lake, and a beautiful shadowing to the rays’ harshness by an overcast.

Once or twice it has threatened to rain, but not past threatening. Something within my bones say there will be no rain. At least not today.

Came across an article on HIV that caused me to blink.

From South Africa. Women who have sex with Women (WSW (ugh!) apparently have a lot of HIV.
Lesbians with HIV.

Reminded me of once when we were in a seminar for the Kuchu community. An HIV positive lady came up to talk about the fact that she was positive. I was seated besides another lady. She was flabbergasted.

“Have you heard her?” she demanded, turning to me, “ She says she got HIV, how could she? Where could she have got it from? Maybe from a man…’

I listened to the other talk. Was not revealed where she got HIV from, but the fact was impressed on us, even lesbians can and do get HIV from one another. Not the preserve of the ‘straights’ as many Ugandans believe. Curiously, in Uganda, gay men believe that they are not at risk of HIV.

Why should they be, when in 25 years of the epidemic, they have not heard of any gay HIV prevention concerns? The HIV preventive programs are more intent on preventing HIV spread by implementing the law against sex between men. Don’t believe me? Check out Ssempa’s words here.

I have looked at the available literature. It is a matter of fact that gay men are a high risk group. And also a matter of fact that gay women are a low risk group.

But you cannot generalize with that without research. In South Africa, lesbians are at risk because of a number of factors, including ‘curative rape’, unprotected sex, and the lack of knowledge. Would be interesting to ask lesbians in Uganda whether they are at risk. Bet you they would say they are not.

Gay men were asked, and they did not think they were at risk.

One of the problems, a hidden, closeted society. A society of the shadows.
One thing is sure. Kuchus will have to work on an HIV prevention campaign themselves if they are to go past the official inertia and homophobia.


1 comment:

DeTamble said...

Curiously, in Uganda, gay men believe that they are not at risk of HIV.

Strange. In the rest of the world it was originally thought that only gay men had HIV.

Curative rape? That's disgusting!

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