The study, conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) in South Africa and Namibia, found that poor mental health and stress caused by high levels of stigma lead the group to engage in behaviour that can lead to contracting HIV.
Heidi van Rooyen, executive director HSRC, explained how the group faces ridicule, leading them to engage in acts such as having unprotected sex, having multiple sexual partners and substance abuse.
“This group is left on the margins and pushing people who are different away has some real consequences. The different kinds of stress because of marginalised positions leads to behaviour such as hiding things or acting straight, which heightens the HIV risk,” she said.
One of the key findings is that health-care facilities do not adequately cater to the needs of the group. Participants of the study felt the need to “act straight” when seeking health-care services and cited experiences with homophobic stigma and discrimination amongst public health-care services.