“ we thought our company is safe”: Southern African lesbians’ 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 ignored lesbians. The experiences of lesbians with HIV have actually likewise been unrecognised and unreported. This erasure has added to your invisibility of lesbians pertaining to HIV and associated health problems. 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, is targeted on 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 intimate relationships with ladies. For those ladies, experiences of coping with HIV are challenging because they find it difficult to comprehend the risk of female-to-female transmission. While struggling with their very own perceptions of invulnerability and accepting their HIV good status, they should deal additionally with wide-ranging misconceptions about danger. The paper contends that inside the context of HIV lesbians can not be viewed as a `no-risk’ team. Wellness solutions and wellness providers ought to answer the ongoing 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 indicates 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 along with to medical care providers. Fables and misconceptions about lesbian and same-sex practising ladies’ resistance have actually become thought by medical care providers along with by lesbians by themselves (Wells and Polders 2005). As an example, Richardson (2000) contends that as a result of exclusion from HIV prevention communications, numerous lesbians think they’re not going to get HIV and therefore are ignorant or reject safer sex methods (Reddy, Sandfort and Rispel 2009).

Anecdotal proof through the Southern African area, in conjunction with incidental information manufactured by away, a Pretoria-based LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) organization, indicates that women that participate in same-sex techniques and lesbians are contaminated and suffering from HIV and AIDS. They report that 8% of same-sex women that are practising 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 amounts of rape and violence that is sexual females and lesbians, especially in Southern Africa, in addition to unsafe transactional intercourse with males generally speaking (Polders and Wells 2004).

Until recently, there’s been research that is scant same-sex sex and HIV and helps with Southern Africa (Reddy, Sandfort and Rispel 2009). There clearly was now a developing corpus that is critical MSM (males that have intercourse with males) 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 females or lesbians with regards to HIV into the continent that is african an entire. Such neglect of females’s experiences within research reflects an even more gender-bias that is widespread the location where females continue steadily to experience obstacles to care and help (Jarman, Walsh and De Lancy 2005). More especially, lesbians are over looked in HIV research and avoidance methods due to the failure to determine and appreciate the social and behavioural complexity of lesbians’ everyday lives (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 sexual behavior and intimate identification can be regarded as having contributed to lesbian neglect (Formby 2011; energy, McNair and Carr 2009; Richardson 2000). Lesbians are regarded as not to ever be at an increased risk for HIV since it is thought which they take part in sexual intercourse just with other females. This presumption overlooks an individual’s intimate history and also the reality that sexual identification just isn’t indicative of nor does it straight convert to intimate behavior. It is perhaps perhaps maybe not self-evident that a lesbian’s intimate history excludes intercourse with guys or some other intimate techniques (Roberts et al. 2000). |Khaxas (2008) argues that some cultural practices in Southern Africa render women’s bodies vulnerable and thus subscribe to the spread HIV and AIDS. Lesbians aren’t resistant to these conditions.

As previous research has shown, social stigma, stereotypes and prejudice donate to making lesbians coping with HIV invisible (Wells and Polders 2005). The concomitant impact is the fact that experiences of lesbians with HIV autumn from the radar regarding the wider HIV positive community (Arend 2003). We keep that to cover awareness of the experiences of lesbians coping with HIV may help in changing basic understandings of HIV transmission and consequently challenge presumptions about lesbian danger.


The analysis implemented community participatory www.camsloveaholics.com/runetki-review 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 these very own truth and also to market transformation that is social the main benefit of the individuals. Key to the understanding is individuals participation in decision-making procedures, creating, execution, sharing of advantages, monitoring and evaluation of jobs (Kumar 2000). The procedure additionally involves elements such as for example information providing, consultation, involvement for product incentives and self-mobilisation. Core to such a method may be the role of community capability and its own relationship to avoidance practice and results.