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Challenges for the sexual health and social acceptance of men who have sex with men in Nigeria

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Little research exists regarding men who have sex with men and sexual risk in Nigeria. Prior to the implementation of a targeted HIV/STI prevalence study, structured focus groups incorporating anonymous questionnaires were conducted with members of this population in secure locations in Nigeria. A purposive sample of men was recruited by word-of-mouth. Five focus groups were conducted with a total of 58 men. Mean age was 27 years (range 16-58); 60% had post-secondary education; 56% were employed full or part-time; 83% were Christian; 16% were Muslim; 66% self-identified as bisexual; 31% as homosexual. Participants' experiences were diverse, with ethnic, religious and class distinctions strongly structuring sexual expression. Same-sex community networks were hidden, with social activities taking place in non-commercial, private venues. Socially ostracized by culture, religion, and political will, the risks embodied within same-sex activity are high. For Nigeria - a nation culturally rich and religiously devout - the implications for public health policy are complex. However, these research findings suggest that immediate action is vital to mitigate the impacts of HIV and other STIs.
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Keywords: Focus groups; MSM; Nigeria; Qualitative; Sexual health; Social acceptance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: HIV Social, Behavioural and Epidemiological Studies Unit, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, Canada 2: Alliance Rights Nigeria, Lagos, Nigeria 3: Department of Microbiology, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Nigeria

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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