'HIV positive gay men in Nigeria are afraid to seek medical help' - Study finds

Schwartz and her colleagues analyzed data from 707 gay and bisexual men in Nigeria who were receiving HIV prevention and treatment services from a community-based clinic in 2013 and 2014.

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Following the introduction of the law against homosexuality in Nigeria, gay and bisexual men in the country are reporting increased reluctance to access healthcare.

The Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act which was signed into law in January 2014, prohibits participation in organizations supporting gay people or attempts at any kind of civil same-sex relationship.

Since the law took effect, gay men may fear that the benefits of medical care don't outweigh the risks.

This is according to Sheree Schwartz of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore who shared this in a paper titled, The Lancet HIV.

According to Schwartz, the paper suggests "that they think the (benefit) of HIV prevention care isn't worth remaining in a system that could potentially out them,"

Schwartz and her colleagues analyzed data from 707 gay and bisexual men in Nigeria who were receiving HIV prevention and treatment services from a community-based clinic in 2013 and 2014.

The men made 756 visits to the clinic before the law passed and 420 after it was enacted. Overall, 38%said they'd been afraid to seek healthcare after the law was enacted, compared to about 25% before the law was passed.

28% said they'd avoided seeking healthcare after the law was enacted, compared to about 20% before the law.

The research further found that the number of men who came to the clinic but did not return for a future visit was high, especially among those who were not infected by HIV.

According to Schwartz, "one of the important points people can take away from this is that a supportive policy environment is really important to support HIV prevention and treatment programs,"

She added that there is a large HIV epidemic among the population that needs to be addressed.

Said Schwartz,

"Definitely there are a lot of same-sex behavior acts that are illegal, but what is not illegal and remains part of the agenda is that everyone has a right to healthcare,"

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