Background There are significant numbers of MSM in different parts of Islamic Republic of Pakistan including Rawalpindi. Religion and social norms do not promote/encourage acceptance of MSM at individual, familial and community level. MSMs generally face severe torture, neglect and deprivations associated to sexual identity. This study aims to provide insight to socio-familial factors that can affect HIV/AIDS related interventions by NMHA which is implementing GFATM’s Regional Grant R-9.
Methodology Using snow-ball sampling technique and consent based inclusion the thirty participants were interviewed to get their case-study and FGD was conducted by 03 researchers included 02 self-identified MSMs from Rawalpindi and a clinical psychologist. NMHA’s research-ethical standards were met with.
Results Almost every participant reported physical abuse by family members and deprivation from family property associated to disclosure of sexual identity. Undue psychological stresses caused due to family pressures to live in “rightly manner” and to “get married” which can lead to leaving home and living in sub-standard conditions resulting in health hazards. Educational and vocational activities are usually discontinued and most of the boys start living with friends with same sexual identity and engage in sex-work. Condom/lubricant knowledge and practise in very low. Harassment and abuse and exploitation (physical/psychological/financial) by police and “network operators” is common. Condom use with wives is for contraception. Fear of being rejected/and from home is a barriers to disclosure to wives.
Conclusion Inclusion of family and PPTCT interventions along with socio-economic empowerment activities can be supportive in developing a rights based HIV prevention programme for MSMs in Rawalpindi. Further studies and a community lead programme and outreach strategy is highly recommended to support empowerment and building self-esteem.
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