Gay-friendly clinic launched in Ermelo

Gay-friendly clinic launched in ErmeloLaunch of a male clinic in Ermelo, attended by the Health MEC (centre)

A gay-friendly clinic was launched this week in Ermelo in Mpumalanga amid a warning from the provincial health MEC that homophobic staff needed to improve their attitude.

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The Anova Health Institute’s Health4Men Initiative launched a competent site at Thusi Clinic in Ermelo together with the Mpumalanga Department of Health that is aimed at providing sexual health services for gay men and other men who have sex with men(MSM) . The site is also now a MSM regional leadership site- making it a hub for ongoing MSM  training, mentoring and technical support to the department.

“Gays and lesbians should have full access to health services without fear of being judged by my staff . With time, I will solve this bad attitudes from our nurses and the negative complaints will be a thing of the past,” said MEC Gillion P Mashego.

Love unconditionally

Mashego said everyone had the right to access health care services at any government facility without any discrimination because of their sexual orientation. He also pleaded with parents to “please accept your children and love them unconditionally no matter what because they deserve our love and acceptance”.

Thabo Mabaso said he had faced discrimination when he went to a clinic to be tested for a sexually transmitted infection: “A nurse started insulting me because I am a gay man. She looked at me as though she was disgusted at me. ‘I was never trained for such people’, she said to me. I was angry, furious but mostly ashamed of being a gay.”

“I left the facility without treatment and went to a doctor instead,” said Mabasa.

Mabaso’s situation is not unique. Many gay men find it difficult to access government health facilities. Cultural and religious beliefs, stigma and discrimination are daily occurrences for gays and lesbians wanting to care for their health.

Without discrimination

Nkuli Mlotshwa, Anova’s Health4 Men project manager in Mpumalanga, said the new clinic would help to fight HIV: “Men who haves sex with men have started to get ARV treatment without the fear of being discriminated against because of their choices,” said Mlotshwa.

There is a high rate of HIV and STIs among MSM. About 13,7 percent of MSM in the Mpumalanga province have HIV, according to a recent study conducted by the Anova Health Institute. – Health-e News.