ICAP fights for the rights of MSM

ICAP fights for the rights of MSM

Men who have sex with men (MSM) worldwide are disproportionately impacted by HIV. South Africa is no exception as while 
exact data is scarce, an estimated 13 to 49 percent of MSM are HIV-positive.

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This is a rate nearly five times higher than their non-MSM counterparts.

This was revealed at a meeting hosted in Johannesburg by the International Centre for AIDS Care and Treatment Programmes (ICAP) with other partners and government representatives. The findings are from a project which started in 2011 aimed at increasing access to care and treatment for men who have sex with men in South Africa.

Spokesperson Londeka Xulu said that the LGBTI community was facing a lot of challenges the support organisations were trying to combat.

“Accessing services with different service providers is really a problem, especially within the clinics.”

He said that even though condoms were freely available at local clinics, there were no lubricants on offer.

“As LGBTI people, we use lubricants during sexual intercourse. Yet we are not given it at our clinics,” said Xulu.

Sensitising health facilities

He said that even though much has been done to sensitise the clinics and hospitals, there are still minor issues to be addressed like accessing barrier methods for LGBTI people.

From 2011 to 2016, with support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ICAP partnered with South Africa’s Department of Health to implement the HIV Prevention Services for the High Risk Underserved Populations Project (operating under the project name “Mosaic Men’s Health Initiative”), contributing to the expansion of HIV prevention and care services for MSM in South Africa.

Xander Flemming, the former project manager at ICAP now with Aurum Institute, said that the Mosaic Men’s Health Initiative was established to make health services not found in clinics available to MSM.

We partnered with the Health Ministry to train certain clinics so that they can be MSM friendly and understand the needs of the MSM community.

“We take the services to the communities, and these include HIV testing and screening for other diseases.”

Flemming said that when they find that a person they have tested and screened needs medical attention they refer them to the clinics that ICAP  that have trained to be MSM-friendly.

“We partnered with the Health Ministry to train certain clinics so that they can be MSM-friendly and understand the needs of the MSM community,” said Flemming.

Ntsupe Mohapi, who runs the Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee from her home, told Health-e News that ICAP has made things easier for their organisation to cater for the needs of MSM.

“ICAP has assisted us in training our staff and giving us all the equipment we need to provide services for MSM, because most MSM don’t go to clinics because of stigma,” said Mohapi.

“But with the Mosaic Men’s Health Initiative that ICAP has introduced to us, we are able to reach many MSM needs.”

An edited version of this story appeared on Health24.