South Africa: Young sexual minorities face increased HIV risk at university

In South Africa, young men who have sex with men are increasingly exploring their sexuality at university, without always understanding the HIV and other health risks they are taking. Yet there are few programmes and awareness campaigns address that focus on young men who have sex with men to address these issues.

A study across 14 higher education institutions involving sexual minorities, found risky sexual behaviour is increasing the risk of HIV transmission among these population groups. The study found that young gay and bisexual students are coming out of the closet, particularly in tertiary education institutions where they are more likely to meet their counterparts. But it is important to understand that not all men who have sex with men identify as gay. The study found that some men who identify as heterosexual engage in unprotected sex with other men, as well as having unprotected sex with female partners.

Based on its findings the study calls for more programmes at education institutions, and greater involvement of male students who have sex with men in such programmes, to help reduce the risk of HIV transmission. At the University of Western Cape a programme for men who have sex with men, as well as people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) is improving the lives of many students.   Read more via Key Correspondents