Thursday, June 10, 2010

BONELA calls for more same-sex information in AIDS campaigns (Botswana)

via Mmegi Online

Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) has requested that more HIV information about same sex relationships be incorporated in the general HIV interventions. Coordinator of BONELA Prevention Research and Initiative for Sexual Minorities (PRISM).

Felistus Motimedi (pictured) told the National AIDS Council last week that during a study BONELA conducted in 2008, it was discovered that there are men who are not necessarily gay, but have sex with other men. The study was meant to improve the understanding of HIV prevention, sexual behaviour and uptake of prevention services. Motimedi said that for some men, having sex with other men is not sexual orientation but a new behaviour pattern. Hence the need for new interventions on the prevention and treatment of HIV and related illnesses.

Motimedi said that they conducted a study in Gaborone, with a population of only 200 as a result of financial constraints. They found information which is at least a starting point and identifies an issue which calls for further studies. "These were men who had identified themselves as men who have had sex with other men," she said.

Motimedi said that during the study, 90.6% reported having received information on how to prevent getting HIV from a woman, while only 50.4% indicated having received information on how to prevent getting the virus from other men. "This is proof that there are not enough messages on same sex prevention campaigns hence we call for immediate interventions," she said.

Motimedi stated that it is important that lubrication be incorporated in campaigns together with condoms since anal sex does not have enough bodily secretion that could enhance safe sex. "They said that they use petroleum jelly or vaseline, body creams or fatty creams, water based lubricants and saliva as lubricants during sex and we all know these are not safe to use," she said. Motimedi called for promotion of condom use and lubrication and education for men who have sex with other men.  She urged various stakeholders to take note of emerging needs and issues of men who have sex with other men.

Motimedi said that during the study, it was revealed that a majority of men having sex with other men are in the 20-29 age group and HIV prevalence is highest in the 25-29 age group.

"Therefore we are saying that young males need focused interventions and sex education to avoid HIV infections through intergenerational sex," she said.

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