Reducing substance use and sexual risk behaviour among men who have sex with men in South Africa

Petersen Williams, Petal ; Carney, Tara ; Parry, Charles D. H. (2016-09-28)

CITATION: Petersen Williams, P., Carney, T. & Parry, C. D. H. 2016. Reducing substance use and sexual risk behaviour among men who have sex with men in South Africa. South African Journal of Science, 112(9/10), Art. #2015-0425, doi:10.17159/sajs.2016/20150425.

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ENGLISH SUMMARY : Men who have sex with men have been identified as a population at risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV. Studies in South Africa have reported a high prevalence of HIV, as well as high levels of alcohol and other drug use, among men who have sex with men, and the use of substances (alcohol and drugs) to facilitate their sexual encounters. Since 2007, interventions focused on prevention have been rolled out to vulnerable men who have sex with men and who also use alcohol or other drugs. The interventions include community-based outreach; provision of information on HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, and safer sex practices; and the development of risk-reduction plans. Among 195 men who participated in our study, there were significant reductions in the proportion who used cannabis and ecstasy, including the use of these drugs during sex. No reduction was observed in the use of any other substances. In general, after the intervention our participants reported less frequent use of alcohol and drugs and greater engagement in safer sexual practices. Despite these encouraging findings, the combination of substance use while engaging in sex had actually increased. The study findings suggest that interventions that target men who have sex with men, and who use alcohol and other drugs, could reduce risk behaviours in this population.

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