Men who have sex with men (MSM) are at high risk for HIV in Senegal, with a prevalence of 21.5%. In December 2008, nine male HIV prevention workers were imprisoned for “acts against nature” prohibited by Senegalese law. This qualitative study assessed the impact of these arrests on HIV prevention efforts. A purposive sample of MSM in six regions of Senegal was recruited by network referral. 26 in-depth interviews (IDIs) and 6 focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted in July–August 2009. 14 key informants were also interviewed. All participants reported pervasive fear and hiding among MSM as a result of the December 2008 arrests and publicity. Service providers suspended HIV prevention work with MSM out of fear for their own safety. Those who continued to provide services noticed a sharp decline in MSM participation. An effective response to the HIV epidemic in Senegal should include active work to decrease enforcement of this law.
Source – PLoS ONE