Helping healthcare workers in Jamaica understand & treat every patient.
The prevalence rate of HIV amongst MSM (men who have sex with men) in Jamaica is almost eighteen times higher than the general population at 32.8%.[i]
One of the challenges in improving healthcare including sexual health services for MSM in Jamaica is the stigma associated with homosexuality. Between 2009 and 2011, 231 reports of assault against the LGBT community were reported to J-FLAG including a number of violent attacks, sometimes including rape and even murder.[ii] The 2012 National Survey on Attitudes and Perceptions of Jamaicans towards Same Sex Relationships found that Jamaicans overwhelmingly support criminalizing homosexuality (85%) and that they believe male homosexuality is “morally wrong” (83%).ii
J-FLAG are working with HCPs in Jamaica to encourage a shift in their perceptions and attitudes towards, MSM to improve access to sexual health services including testing, counselling and treatment for HIV. Through a series of workshops, outreach workers, doctors, nurses, psychologists, mental health workers and social workers came together to explore and reflect on their own perceptions, feelings and attitudes towards MSM.
So far more than 90 HCPs have benefitted from the training with more workshops planned in the coming months.
“This workshop helps me to understand that persons have different values and belief…they are humans and have the right to access quality health care”.
“It has allowed me to be more open-minded and recognise that these individuals are persons too and to look beyond their sexual preference”.
[i] UNAIDS, Jamaica Country Report 2014. Available at: http://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/country/documents//JAM_narrative_report_2014.pdf. Last accessed November 2015