Reducing stigma to improve engagement in HIV care among men who have sex with men

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The Humsafar Trust, ICRW

Men who have sex with men (MSM) are particularly vulnerable to HIV as well as to other physical and psychological health concerns. MSM experience multi-layered stigma and discrimination as a result of their perceived or real HIV status and their same-sex behavior. Because of social and cultural non-acceptance of their sexuality and fear of being ridiculed, MSM experience internalized stigma, which manifests as guilt, depression, lack of confidence and unwillingness to discuss their sexual lives. This not only influences their mental health but also, combined with enacted or perceived stigma by health care providers, can impede the utilization of health services by MSM. Through a process of research and joint discussion of findings, this project created a foundation for combating stigma at both the individual and institutional levels. It was part of a larger effort to adapt and pilot test a global stigma reduction framework to the Indian context.

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