Program brief: Exploring the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of msm engaged in substance use and transactional sex in Ghana
Bachman DeSilva, Mary
Baffuor Opoku, Kofi
Ahmed Abdul Rahman, Yussif
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Preventing HIV among key populations is a goal of the National AIDS Control Program (NACP) and the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC).1 Men who have sex with men (MSM) are a particularly stigmatized group in Ghana, in part because male-to-male sex is viewed as “unnatural” and therefore illegal. MSM are a critical though difficult population to reach with HIV-related services. Until recently, specific data on MSM in the country were limited. The Ghana Men’s Study (GMS), which collected data from 1,302 MSM in five regions in 2011, has detailed information on HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevalence and risk behaviors among MSM. Whereas adult HIV prevalence in Ghana has been estimated at 1.31% in 2013,2 the GMS documented a nationwide average prevalence in 2011 of 17.5% among MSM, with the rate in Accra estimated at 34.3% and 13.7% in Kumasi.3 This qualitative study was designed to complement and supplement quantitative findings about MSM from the GMS. It was conducted by Boston University’s Center for Global Health and Development and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in collaboration with FHI 360 and with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/Ghana. It is the first of two qualitative studies focusing on MSM in Ghana. The objectives were to explore: (1) the types and extent of substance use by MSM; (2) the overlap between substance use and transactional sex among MSM; (3) the beliefs and attitudes related to substance use and transactional sex; and (4) knowledge and risk behaviors of both subgroups. In-depth interviews (IDI) and focus group discussions (FGD) were used to collect data from four participant groups: two age groups, adolescent MSM (aged 15-17 years) and young adult MSM (aged 18-29 years), with each group including men who consume high levels of alcohol and/ or use drugs and men who engage in transactional sex (TS). Transactional sex is defined here as self-reported sex with another man in exchange for money, gifts, or favors.
This study was implemented by Boston University in collaboration with the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology with support from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the U.S. Agency for International Development under Project SEARCH Task Order No. GHH‐I‐00‐07‐00023‐00, beginning August 27, 2010. The content and views expressed here are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policy of USAID or the U.S. Government.