Group Aims To Reach MSM With HIV Prevention Messages in Ghana
HIV prevention messages in Ghana, where homosexuality is illegal, have long excluded men who have sex with men, so a group has been operating a peer education program to raise awareness among the population about the disease, the Toronto Star reports. The Centre for Popular Education and Human Rights Ghana enlists about 30 male and female volunteers -- who were trained by USAID -- to sell condoms and lubricants in five neighborhoods across Ghana. The program is a "spin" on the U.S.-supported ABC approach to HIV prevention, which focuses on abstinence, being faithful and using condoms, the Star reports. The peer educators say that the program is working because they have reached almost 800 MSM in five neighborhoods in Ghana's capital, Accra -- which is twice the number they hoped to reach. They also have sold almost 18,000 condoms and more than 500 tubes of lubricants. In addition, when the price of lubrication at local stores was increased recently, counselors received numerous requests for lower-cost tubes. The program will run out of funding in September, the Star reports. Mac-Darling Cobinah, founder and executive director of the Center for Popular Education, said the initiative would have a greater capacity if organizations such as UNAIDS became involved. Because the MSM community in Ghana is hard to monitor, there is no data on how many MSM are living with HIV in the country, which has an overall HIV prevalence of 3.1%, according to the Star. A study conducted in March 2004 among MSM in Ghana found that the men believed anal sex was safer than vaginal sex and that they lacked knowledge on sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV and gonorrhea (Palmer, Toronto Star, 8/21).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.