Study unearths high rates of violence against gay, bi-sexual students

Study unearths high rates of violence against gay, bi-sexual studentsThe project helped collect data that showed that about 28 percent of MSM surveyed in Ermelo were living with HIV (File photo)

More than one in ten gay or bisexual male students report that they have been the target of campus violence because of their sexual orientation, according to the first national survey of sexual orientation and HIV risk on South African campuses released yesterday.

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About ten percent of MSM reported being the target of campus violence due to their sexual orientation while more than one in 10 reported being raped.
About ten percent of MSM reported being the target of campus violence due to their sexual orientation while more than one in 10 reported being raped.

The National Student Health HIV Knowledge, Attitude and Behaviour Survey surveyed about 9000 students from 14 higher education institutions across the country. Commissioned by the Higher Education and Training HIV Programme (HEAIDS), the study found that about 10 percent of students reported having sex with men. More than 20 percent of students surveyed reported identifying as gay or bi-sexual.

About 10 percent of men who had sex with men (MSM) reported being the target of campus violence due to their sexual orientation while more than one in 10 reported being raped.

The survey also found that alcohol and drug abuse was significantly higher among MSM at least four percent of whom were living with HIV.

HEAIDS Director Dr Ramneek Ahluwalia said universities must do more to protect students.

“Some of them don’t even finish their studies, or freely access health services on campus for fear of victimization,” he said. “This talks to human rights directly – we need to start embracing this diversity.”

Tshwane University of Technology student Thando Qashani, 21, said that many men who have sex with men shun campus clinics.

“Sometimes we don’t go to the campus clinic unless you know the person who will be helping you,” he told Health-e News. “If you don’t (the person on duty) then you stay way because we are faced with homophobic health workers who can call us names.”

The study also noted that students of all sexual orientations reported engaging in anal sex and that consistent condom use was problematic.

The risk of contracting HIV through unprotected receptive anal sex is almost 20 times greater than the HIV risk associated with vaginal intercourse, according to a 2011 research review published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

The study also found that consistent condom use was a problem among all students regardless of sexual orientation. – Health-e News.