Key vulnerabilities to HIV among men who have sex with men in Ghana
In Ghana, prevalence of HIV among MSM is significantly higher than that of the general population. Substance use and transactional sex in the urban settings of Ghana have been identified as risk behaviors that exacerbate chances of transmission for this vulnerable group. This thesis draws upon the findings of two companion studies that were conducted in Kumasi, Ghana by Boston University researchers in 2012. The objectives of the studies were to gain a deeper understanding of the behaviors and attitudes regarding substance use and transactional sex among younger and older MSM in Kumasi, Ghana. In the first study 99 MSM between the ages of 15 to 29 years old participated, of whom 55 attended focus group discussions (FGDs) and 44 participated in in-depth interviews (IDIs). In the second study 44 participants aged 30 years or older participated including 20 in IDIs and 24 in FGDs. Condom use was found to be inconsistent across all ages and most commonly attributed to reduced caution while drinking alcohol. Transactional sex was high among both young and older MSM, but younger MSM were more likely to be on the ‘receiving’ end of the transaction with the older men providing money and gifts. For both groups the internet was identified as a key method to contact prospective sexual partners suggesting the need to include social media in future HIV prevention interventions.