By 2016, it was estimated that 1.2 million people in Zambia were living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). With an adult prevalence of 12.3 percent, Zambia is one of the top 10 countries with the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world. Although the Zambian government has recently included men who have sex with men in its HIV prevention agenda, intervention efforts have been limited among this population. Previous research suggests that men who have sex with men in Zambia face heightened risk of HIV infection as a result of substance abuse and unprotected sex.
The stigmatization toward men who have sex with men and homosexual behaviors contributes to these high rates and risk of HIV for this population, and there is a dearth of programs in place to counteract the different forms of stigma that men who have sex with men face in Zambia. There is also limited research on the specific impacts of stigma on men who have sex with men and how stigma may play a role in the delivery of healthcare services to this group by providers.
Dr. Shan Qiao, assistant professor of health promotion, education, and behavior (HPEB) in the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, has received a $360K R21 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to address this gap in the research. She and her mentor, Dr. Xiaoming Li, will work with colleagues from the University of Michigan, University of Zambia and a community-based lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) organization in Zambia (Friends of Rainka) to examine the needs and approaches of reducing stigma against men who have sex with men among healthcare providers in Zambia.Friday Letter Submission