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“ we thought our company is safe”: Southern African lesbians’ experiences of coping with HIV

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“ we thought our company is safe”: Southern African lesbians’ experiences of coping with HIV

Zethu Matebeni

1 Institute for Humanities in Africa (HUMA), University of Cape Town, Southern Africa

Vasu Reddy

2 Human and Social Developing Analysis Programme, Human Sciences Analysis Council, Pretoria, Southern Africa

Theo Sandfort

3 HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, ny State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University, ny, United States Of America

Ian Southey-Swartz

4 Open community Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), Johannesburg, Southern Africa


HIV service and prevention programmes have traditionally either ignored or over looked lesbians. The experiences of lesbians with HIV have actually likewise been unrecognised and unreported. This erasure has added into the invisibility of lesbians pertaining to HIV and associated health problems. This community participatory research, centered on in-depth interviews with twenty-four self-identifying African lesbians living with HIV in Southern Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia, centers around their experiences that are personal circumstances. Ladies’ experiences shed light and challenge notions that are popular lesbian risk. In specific among this team are lesbians whom self-report exclusive relationships that are sexual ladies. For those ladies, experiences of coping with HIV are challenging while they battle to realize the risk of female-to-female transmission. While struggling with their very own perceptions of invulnerability and accepting their HIV status that is positive they need to deal additionally with wide-ranging misconceptions about risk. The paper contends that in the context of HIV lesbians can not be considered to be a `no-risk’ team. Wellness solutions and wellness providers ought to react to the ongoing wellness requirements of lesbians coping with HIV.


The wide and existing misconception that same-sex practising females and lesbians 1 face no significant HIV-related wellness threats indicates deficiencies in sensitive and painful research approaches to the research of HIV risks linked with intercourse between females (Johnson 2007; Reddy, Sandfort and Rispel 2009). Ladies in same-sex relationships and lesbians stay hidden in HIV research, in avoidance programmes along with to medical care providers. Urban myths and misconceptions about lesbian and same-sex women that are practising resistance have actually turned out to be thought by medical care providers also by lesbians on their own (Wells and Polders 2005). For instance, Richardson (2000) contends that due to exclusion from HIV prevention communications, numerous lesbians think they’re not going to get HIV and therefore are ignorant or reject safer sex methods (Reddy, Sandfort and Rispel 2009).

Anecdotal proof through the Southern African area, in conjunction with incidental information manufactured by away, a Pretoria-based LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) organization, suggests that women that participate in same-sex techniques and lesbians are contaminated and impacted by HIV and AIDS. They report that 8% of same-sex practising women who had been conscious of their HIV status had disclosed as HIV good. The high prices of HIV amongst lesbians and bisexual ladies had been caused by alarming amounts of rape and intimate physical violence among ladies and lesbians, especially in Southern Africa, along with unsafe transactional intercourse with males generally speaking (Polders and Wells 2004).

Until recently, there is research that is scant same-sex sex and HIV and helps with Southern Africa (Reddy, Sandfort and Rispel 2009). There was now a developing critical corpus on MSM (males who possess intercourse with males) and HIV in many high effect educational journals. But, there’s been a substantial not enough focus on the experiences of same-sex practising ladies or lesbians with regards to HIV within the continent that is african an entire. runetki3 token gratis Such neglect of females’s experiences within research reflects an even more extensive gender-bias in the location where females continue steadily to experience obstacles to care and help (Jarman, Walsh and De Lancy 2005). More particularly, lesbians are ignored in HIV research and avoidance techniques due to the failure to determine and appreciate the social and behavioural complexity of lesbians’ everyday lives (Dolan and Davis 2003) or that ladies are not absolutely all the epidemiologically that is sameMora and Monteiro 2010).

Lesbian intimate behavior and HIV

The presumption of an in depth relationship between intimate behavior and intimate identification could be viewed as having contributed to lesbian neglect (Formby 2011; energy, McNair and Carr 2009; Richardson 2000). Lesbians are regarded as never to be at an increased risk for HIV since it is thought which they participate in sexual intercourse just with other ladies. This presumption overlooks an individual’s intimate history plus the reality that sexual identification is certainly not indicative of nor does it straight convert to intimate behavior. It is maybe perhaps maybe not self-evident that the lesbian’s intimate history excludes intercourse with males or other intimate methods (Roberts et al. 2000). |Khaxas (2008) argues that some cultural practices in Southern Africa render women’s bodies vulnerable and so play a role in the spread HIV and AIDS. Lesbians are not resistant to these conditions.

As past research has shown, social stigma, stereotypes and prejudice donate to making lesbians coping with HIV invisible (Wells and Polders 2005). The concomitant impact is that the experiences of lesbians with HIV autumn from the radar associated with wider HIV positive community (Arend 2003). We keep that to pay for focus on the experiences of lesbians managing HIV may assist in changing basic understandings of HIV transmission and consequently challenge presumptions about lesbian danger.


The analysis implemented community participatory approach. The study was invested in the transfer of skills and capacity building of local LGBT organisations in the areas where research was conducted from the onset. Such a method seeks to allow communities to take part in the analysis of one’s own truth also to market transformation that is social the benefit of the individuals. Key to the understanding is individuals participation in decision-making procedures, creating, execution, sharing of advantages, evaluation and monitoring of jobs (Kumar 2000). The method additionally involves elements such as for instance information offering, assessment, involvement for product incentives and self-mobilisation. Central to such a method may be the part of community capability as well as its relationship to avoidance practice and results.