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Gay men reluctant to come out of the closet

ONALENNA KELEBEILE
A gay couple
SELEBI-PHIKWE: Reaching out to men in same sex relationships is proving to be a mammoth task for HIV non-governmental organisation (NGO), Silence Kills Support Group (SKSG).

The NGO, which began operation in January 2015, has identified over 50 men who have sex with men (MSM) in Selebi-Phikwe and surrounding areas.

Speaking during the New Directions Global Health workshop held on Wednesday,

SKSG coordinator, Dalton Bontsi, said there are many MSMs across the country but it is difficult to reach out to them since they fear stigma and criminal charges, hence most of them are reluctant to come out of the closet, adding that this makes it difficult for the support group to assist them.

The six months project, which is funded by the Management Sciences for Health, is a combination of HIV prevention project focusing on key populations.

SKSG organised a bash party for men having sex with men in February, which managed to reach out to over 50 MSMs from the town and surrounding areas. The aim of the

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bash was to teach them about sexually transmitted infections and create a forum for information dissemination and condom distribution. “They are ordinary people. Some of them are family men, educated and could be teachers, police officers, nurses and from any other professions,” he said.

Bontsi further said sourcing funds had proven to be challenging because most companies want to invest in activities that sell their brands and do not want to associate with practices like commercial sex work, or men having sex with men.

Bontsi also said before starting the project, the support group had consulted all stakeholders to find out more about homosexual men and their lifestyles.He added that it was important to disseminate information to men who have sex with men because they were more likely to contract HIV since transmission risk is higher during anal sex.



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