“ we was thinking our company is safe”: Southern lesbians that are african experiences of coping with HIV

“ we was thinking our company is safe”: Southern lesbians that are african experiences of coping with HIV

Zethu Matebeni

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

Vasu Reddy

2 Individual 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, nyc, United States Of America

Ian Southey-Swartz

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


HIV prevention and solution programmes have actually very long 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 in terms of HIV and associated health risks. 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 popular notions around lesbian risk. In specific among this team are lesbians whom self-report exclusive relationships that are sexual females. Of these ladies, experiences of coping with HIV are challenging because they find it difficult to comprehend the possibility for female-to-female transmission. While struggling with their particular perceptions of invulnerability and accepting their HIV good status, they need to deal additionally with wide-ranging misconceptions about danger. The paper contends that inside 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 wellness requirements of lesbians coping with HIV.


The wide and misconception that is existing same-sex practising females and lesbians 1 face no significant HIV-related wellness threats recommends too little painful and sensitive research approaches to the research of HIV risks linked with intercourse between ladies (Johnson 2007; Reddy, Sandfort and Rispel 2009). Feamales in same-sex relationships and lesbians stay hidden in HIV research, in avoidance programmes in addition to 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 by themselves (Wells and Polders 2005). As an example, Richardson (2000) contends that due to exclusion from HIV prevention communications, numerous lesbians think they’ll not get HIV and so are ignorant or reject safer sex methods (Reddy, Sandfort and Rispel 2009).

Anecdotal proof through the Southern region that is african in conjunction with incidental information manufactured by away, a Pretoria-based LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) organization, indicates that ladies who participate in same-sex methods and lesbians are contaminated and afflicted with 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 quantities of rape and violence that is sexual females 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 is certainly now a developing corpus that is critical MSM (males that have intercourse with guys) and HIV in a number of high effect educational journals. But, there’s been a substantial not enough awareness of the experiences of same-sex practising ladies or lesbians with regards to HIV into the African continent as an entire. 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 over looked in HIV research and avoidance techniques due to the failure to determine and appreciate the social and behavioural complexity of lesbians’ life (Dolan and Davis 2003) or that ladies are not totally 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 sex just with other females. This presumption overlooks an individual’s intimate history as well as the reality that sexual identification just isn’t indicative of nor does it straight convert to intimate behavior. Therefore perhaps perhaps maybe not self-evident that a lesbian’s intimate history excludes intercourse with guys or some other intimate methods (Roberts et al. 2000). |Khaxas (2008) argues that some cultural practices in Southern Africa render women’s bodies vulnerable and thus play a role in the spread HIV and AIDS. Lesbians aren’t resistant to those conditions.

As past studies have 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 for the wider HIV positive community (Arend 2003). We keep that to cover focus on the experiences of lesbians coping with HIV may help in changing basic understandings of HIV transmission and consequently challenge presumptions about lesbian danger.


The research adopted a grouped 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 make it possible for communities to be involved in the analysis of one’s own truth also to market social transformation for the advantage 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 procedure additionally involves elements such as for example information providing, assessment, involvement for product incentives and self-mobilisation. Core to such a method could be the role of community capability and its particular relationship to avoidance practice and results.