“ we thought our company is safe”: Southern lesbians that are african experiences of living with HIV

Zethu Matebeni

1 Institute for Humanities in Africa (HUMA), University of Cape Town, Southern Africa

Vasu Reddy

2 Individual and Social Developing Analysis Programme, Human Sciences Analysis Council, Pretoria, Southern Africa

Theo Sandfort

3 HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, ny State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University, ny, United States Of America

Ian Southey-Swartz

4 Open community Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), Johannesburg, Southern Africa


HIV prevention and solution programmes have traditionally either ignored or ignored lesbians. The experiences of lesbians with HIV have actually likewise been unrecognised and unreported. This erasure has added towards the invisibility of lesbians with regards to HIV and related health problems. This community participatory research, according to in-depth interviews with twenty-four self-identifying African lesbians living with HIV in Southern Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia, centers on their experiences that are personal circumstances. Ladies’ experiences shed light and challenge notions that are popular lesbian risk. In specific among this team are lesbians whom self-report exclusive relationships that are sexual females. For those females, experiences of coping with HIV are challenging while they battle to comprehend the chance for female-to-female transmission. While dealing with their particular perceptions of invulnerability and accepting their HIV good status, they need to deal additionally with wide-ranging misconceptions about danger. The paper contends that inside the context of HIV lesbians may not be viewed as a `no-risk’ team. Wellness solutions and wellness providers ought to react to the ongoing wellness requirements of lesbians coping with HIV.


The wide and misconception that is existing same-sex practising females and lesbians 1 face no significant HIV-related wellness threats indicates too little sensitive and painful research approaches in to the research of HIV risks linked with intercourse between ladies (Johnson 2007; Reddy, Sandfort and Rispel 2009). Ladies in same-sex relationships and lesbians stay hidden in HIV research, in avoidance programmes along with to medical care providers. Urban myths and misconceptions about lesbian and same-sex practising ladies’ resistance have actually become thought by medical care providers in addition to by lesbians on their own (Wells and Polders 2005). As an example, Richardson (2000) contends that as a result of exclusion from HIV prevention communications, numerous lesbians think they’re not going to get HIV and so are ignorant or reject safer sex methods (Reddy, Sandfort and Rispel 2009).

Anecdotal proof through the Southern region that is african along with incidental data produced sexier free sex chat by away, a Pretoria-based LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) organization, suggests that ladies who participate in same-sex methods and lesbians are contaminated and suffering from HIV and AIDS. They report that 8% of same-sex practising women who had been conscious of their HIV status had disclosed as HIV good. The high prices of HIV amongst lesbians and bisexual females were caused by alarming degrees of rape and violence that is sexual ladies and lesbians, especially in Southern Africa, along with unsafe transactional intercourse with males generally speaking (Polders and Wells 2004).

Until recently, there is research that is scant same-sex sex and HIV and helps with Southern Africa (Reddy, Sandfort and Rispel 2009). There was now a developing critical corpus on MSM (males who possess intercourse with guys) and HIV in lot of high effect scholastic journals. But, there’s been a substantial not enough focus on the experiences of same-sex practising females or lesbians in terms of HIV when you look at the continent that is african a whole. Such neglect of females’s experiences within research reflects a far more gender-bias that is widespread the location where ladies continue steadily to experience obstacles to care and help (Jarman, Walsh and De Lancy 2005). More particularly, lesbians are ignored in HIV research and avoidance techniques due to the failure to determine and appreciate the social and behavioural complexity of lesbians’ everyday lives (Dolan and Davis 2003) or that ladies are only a few the epidemiologically that is sameMora and Monteiro 2010).

Lesbian intimate behavior and HIV

The presumption of a detailed relationship between intimate behavior and intimate identification may also be regarded as having contributed to lesbian neglect (Formby 2011; energy, McNair and Carr 2009; Richardson 2000). Lesbians are regarded as to not ever be at an increased risk for HIV since it is thought which they take part in sexual intercourse just with other ladies. This presumption overlooks an individual’s intimate history as well as the reality that sexual identification just isn’t indicative of nor does it straight convert to sexual behavior. Hence maybe perhaps maybe not self-evident that a lesbian’s intimate history excludes intercourse with guys or several other intimate methods (Roberts et al. 2000). |Khaxas (2008) argues that some cultural practices in Southern Africa render women’s bodies vulnerable and therefore subscribe to the spread HIV and AIDS. Lesbians aren’t resistant to these conditions.

As past studies have shown, social stigma, stereotypes and prejudice donate to making lesbians coping with HIV invisible (Wells and Polders 2005). The concomitant impact is that the experiences of lesbians with HIV autumn from the radar regarding the wider HIV positive community (Arend 2003). We maintain that to concentrate on the experiences of lesbians managing HIV may help out with changing basic understandings of HIV transmission and consequently challenge presumptions about lesbian danger.


The analysis accompanied a grouped community participatory approach. The study was invested in the transfer of skills and capacity building of local LGBT organisations in the areas where research was conducted from the onset. Such a method seeks make it possible for communities to take part in the analysis of one’s own truth and also to market social change for the main benefit of the individuals. Key to the understanding is individuals involvement in decision-making procedures, creating, execution, sharing of advantages, evaluation and monitoring of jobs (Kumar 2000). The method additionally involves elements such as for instance information offering, assessment, involvement for product incentives and self-mobilisation. Core to such a method could be the part of community ability and its own relationship to avoidance practice and results.

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