The sexual health needs of men who have sex with men (MSM), particularly men who identify as straight but engage in same-sex sexual practices, are notoriously neglected, making them a most-at-risk group (MARP), or key population in the HIV epidemic.
Anova’s research in Johannesburg and Cape Town shows that more than one in three MSM tested HIV positive – and one in ten South African men will have sex with other men at some point. MSM report abuse and discrimination at all levels of the healthcare sector.
Anova’s Health4Men initiative is one of the first projects on the continent to draw considerable attention to and address the sexual health needs of men who have sex with men in the context of HIV.
Health4Men centers have developed innovative services and programmes to address the ‘gap’ in HIV prevention and care as it relates to MSM.
Anova is working in partnership with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) on the Boithato project to increase knowledge of MSM in rural South Africa.
Elton John AIDS Foundation supports Health4Men
In October 2014, a new $7 million grant for the Anova Health Institute’s Health4Men project to address HIV in South Africa’s gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men (MSM) community was announced. This significant international funding boost to expand MSM-targeted HIV-related services in South Africa is the result of a new partnership between the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) and the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
Sir Elton John said, “As one of millions who have heard the Obama administration’s voice loud and clear on human rights and sexuality, I am enormously proud that my Foundation is now working with PEPFAR to help realise an AIDS-free future for everyone, regardless of who they love or how they love.”
Speaking in Johannesburg, the Anova Health Institute’s Chief Executive Officer, Professor James McIntyre, expressed gratitude to the EJAF and PEPFAR: “MSM remain a neglected key population throughout Africa, including South Africa. This significant funding comes at a time when we are supporting access to competent health services for MSM, free of prejudice, throughout the country in partnership with our Department of Health and the South African National Aids Council (SANAC). It will allow us to extend such access while also implementing a national prevention campaign targeting MSM.”
Groundbreaking website launched in Africa
MSM living in East Africa, where homophobia is on the rise, now have access to a unique website, Afya4Men.info, which contains comprehensive sexual health information targeted to their specific needs.
Afya4Men.info, launched in December 2014 is entirely bilingual, offering information in both Swahili and English. It has been designed to be easily accessed on any computer or mobile phone with an internet connection. All information can also be downloaded for easy sharing with others.