• Access to health services for men who have sex with men and transgender women in Beira, Mozambique: A qualitative study

      Gamariel, F; Isaakidis, P; Tarquino, IAP; Beirão, JC; O'Connell, L; Mulieca, N; Gatoma, HP; Cumbe, VFJ; Venables, E (Public Library of Science, 2020-01-30)
      OBJECTIVES: HIV prevalence and incidence are higher among key populations including Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) and transgender women in low and middle income countries, when compared to the general population. Despite World Health Organisation guidelines on the provision of services to key populations recommending an evidence-based, culturally relevant and rights-based approach, uptake of HIV services in many resource-limited and rights-constrained settings remains low. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been offering health services for MSM and transgender women in Beira, Mozambique since 2014 using a peer-educator driven model, but uptake of services has not been as high as expected. This qualitative study aimed to learn more about these key populations in Beira, their experiences of accessing MSM- and transgender-friendly services and their use of face-to-face and virtual networks, including social media, for engagement with health care. METHODS: In-depth interviews were carried out with MSM and transgender women who were 1) enrolled in, 2) disengaged from or 3) never engaged in MSF's programme. Purposive and snowball sampling were used to recruit the different groups of interviewees. Interviews were conducted in Portuguese, transcribed and translated into English before being coded and manually analysed using a thematic network framework. RESULTS: Nine transgender women and 18 cisgender MSM participated in the study. Interviewees ranged in age from 19 to 47 years, with a median age of 29. Three main themes emerged from the data: perceptions of stigma and discrimination, experiences of the peer-educator driven model and the use of face-to-face and virtual platforms for communication and engagement, including social media. Interviewees reported experiencing stigma and discrimination because of their gender or sexual identity. HIV-related stigma and health-care setting discrimination, including gossip and breach of confidentiality, were also reported. Although the presence of the peer-educators and their outreach activities were appreciated, they had limited visibility and an over-focus on health and HIV. The face-to-face networks of MSM and transgender women were small and fragmented. Virtual networks such as Facebook were mainly used for flirting, dating and informal communication. Most interviewees were at ease using social media and would consider it as a means of engaging with health messaging. CONCLUSIONS: MSM and transgender women have challenges in accessing health services due to being stigmatised because of their gender identity and their sexual behaviour, and often experience stigma at home, in health-care facilities and in their communities. Peer-driven models of engagement were appreciated but have limitations. There is an untapped potential for further expansion and engagement with face-to-face and virtual platforms to reach MSM and transgender women in settings with a high HIV burden, and to provide them with essential information about HIV and their health.
    • The epidemiology of rape and sexual violence in the platinum mining district of Rustenburg, South Africa: Prevalence, and factors associated with sexual violence.

      Steele, SJ; Abrahams, N; Duncan, K; Woollett, N; Hwang, B; O'Connell, L; van Cutsem, G; Shroufi, A (Public Library of Sciences, 2019-07-31)
      BACKGROUND: Estimates for the prevalence of rape and other forms of sexual violence (SV) vary in South Africa. This survey aimed to provide clarity by quantifying the prevalence of SV (forced sex or sexual acts) by 1) sexual partners, and 2) non-partners, and to describe factors associated with these outcomes among women (18-49 years) living in Rustenburg Municipality. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We conducted a cluster-randomized household survey (November-December 2015). Women were asked about their experiences of SV, associated attitudes and behaviours, and access to services. Logistic regression was used to determine factors associated with partner and non-partner SV. RESULTS: Of eligible households, 83·1% (1700/2044) participated. Of 966 women invited, 836 participated (86·5%). Average age of participants was 31.6 years (95%CI: 30·9, 32·4) with 45% having completed at least secondary school, and 60% unemployed or looking for work. Lifetime prevalence of SV was 24.9% (95%CI: 21·7-28·5), reaching 9.0% (95% CI: 6·6-12·1) by age 15. Almost one third told no one of their SV experiences. Factors related to financial dependence were associated with SV by a partner. History of termination of pregnancy increased the likelihood of SV by a non-partner as an adult. Women who experienced SV in childhood or as an adult were more likely to experience SV from a different type of perpetrator than those who did not. CONCLUSIONS: We found a high prevalence of SV, including during childhood, in this setting, with limited access to care. This and the high morbidity attributed to SV calls for increased service provision.