Reducing the risk of adolescent men who have sex with men (MSM) in Kingston, Jamaica
A. Campbell1, C. Jones Cooper2, L. Byfield2, R. Russel3, N. Cooper2
1South East Regional Health Authority, Technical Department, Kingston, Jamaica, 2National AIDS Control Program, Kingston, Jamaica, 3South East Regional Health Authority, Kingston, Jamaica
Issues: General homophobia, high prevalence of HIV/STI in the population and mistrust of health care workers limits prevention services with MSM in Jamaica
Description: The National Program intervenes with MSM to address their health seeking and risky behaviour through a series of empowerment workshops. The intervention has a two prong approach, - prevention services and access to treatment and care. Known MSM were asked to recruit others for focus group discussion to determine the needs of the population. Fifteen, 3-hours sessions were planned to identify and address issues of, 1) opportunity for MSM specific counseling, 2) unwillingness to access health care services due to stigma and discrimination and 3) voluntary counseling and testing. A total of 14 young men ages 15-22 attended sessions regularly. The repeated sessions allowed participants to confront existing risk practices and to design strategies to address these. In addressing the issues of stigma and discrimination from health care workers, three panel discussions by MSM and health care workers were held. Doctors and nurses were identified to facilitate fast track referral services for improving access to care. At the end of the series all participants had been tested, referred and attended the local health centres. This cohort also identified an additional 15 of their peers to attend subsequent workshop.
Lessons learned: Health care workers need to be sensitized and confront their attitudes relating to MSM. MSM were willing to have discussion around sexuality and risky behaviour once issues of stigma and discrimination had been addressed.
Next steps: Follow up workshops with the young men to engage them in income generating skills. More sensitizing of health care workers to health issues affecting adolescent MSM.
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