Multiple concurrent sexual partnerships among the MSM has been an issue not only to the MSM in Africa but the entire world. It is a common practice among the same to have multiple partners with low consistent condom use among MSM that is driving of high HIV rate prevalence among them, however through some of the organizations interventions like keeping Alive societies Hope (KASH) MSM in Kisumu can proudly say that at least they are a step ahead and gearing to the beyond zero campaigns.
In Kisumu there is a group whose name will remain confidential for the obvious that registered itself as a self-help group and vowed to serve their MSM community and has seen the fruits bore in the past one year, group of men who have sex with men who from diverse background came up with strategy on how to deal with the common issues that affect their community at large and Kisumu to be precise for a start. During an interactive session with the men in one of their meeting these were my findings.
So how why did you guy’s come up with this kind of group? I asked Daddy not his real name the chair person for the group. He said the group was started after almost each member had encountered blackmail and drama by the community; we sat and thought of how to come up with a group that can serve protect and serve our interest he said. That seems like movement right? I asked which he confirmed yes that their agenda but want to start as group. Daddy said most MSM tend to have multiple sexual partners which puts the at high risk of contracting HIV/STI.He added as group they have strategies of handling few common issue that affect their community and especially to the new MSM in Kisumu town and its environs. Here are some of their strategies
• Each new MSM in Kisumu should at least be identified by any organization that he feels comfortable confiding in, this would ease faster referrals to health facility in case one falls sick, it would make you identify with the community not necessarily branding or exposing you as these is done by professionals in the same organization’s and one can at least trace you from your past bearing in mind that most of these organizations work as team.
• When getting to the city of Kisumu before you are incorporated in any of the said groups or organizations one has to be referred by a person whose record is clearly known to the MSM community in Kisumu and incase of blackmail or theft cases one would be traced and victims saved.
• All are encouraged to join support groups in cases of those who are HIV positive and learn how can live longer with the virus and protect their loved ones from reinfections those would also help them know their fellow MSM who are living positive without guesswork’s and if decide to go intimacy they have safe sex.
• Establishing unlimited number of sexual partners which these MSM are encouraged to develop asmall,closed network of known sexual partners as opposed to having frequent anonymous sex with strangers.
• Educate on sero-sorting a strategy whereby HIV negative men may choose to only have sex with HIV negative partners and HIV positive men with the HIV positive and this strategy removes worry about infecting a negative man as their partners are already HIV positive.
My session ended with the team highlighting on the importance of their group encouraging the negotiation for safety relationships which they said most MSM in committed relationship’s either with men or women often engaging in clandestine sex with others and that such should be encouraged to consider their primary partners sexual health. Daddy however summon all our talk that unless partners can allow each other the freedom to discuss possible HIV exposure with others, correct and consistence condom use within the confines of the relationship must be protected.