Jean-Noël Senne published his paper “Sexuality-based stigma and access to care: intersecting perspectives between healthcare providers and men who have sex with men in HIV care centres in Senegal”, co-authored with Albert Gautier Ndione, Fanny Procureur, Francesca Cornaglia, Khady Gueye, Cheikh Tidiane Ndour and Aurélia Lépine, in Health Policy and Planning, May 2022, 37(5): 587–596.
Abstract: Men who have sex with men (MSM) in Senegal face a challenging socio-legal context, marked by homophobia and the illegality of homosexuality. In addition, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevalence among MSM is 27.6%, 46 times greater than the one in the general population (0.5%). Nevertheless, access to healthcare by MSM may be hampered by stigmatizing attitudes from health facility staff (medical and non-medical). This article describes the health facility staff/MSM relationship and analyses its effects on access to healthcare by MSM. The data used were collected through a field survey based on observations and qualitative interviews conducted in 2019 and 2020 with 16 MSM, 1 non-governmental organization (NGO) staff and 9 healthcare providers in Dakar (the capital city) and Mbour (secondary city on the West Coast) hospitals. The data were subject to a thematic analysis assisted by the ATLAS software. The relationship between MSM and healthcare providers is ambiguous. On the one hand, healthcare providers are torn between their professional duty to treat MSM and the cost of being stigmatized by other colleagues. Therefore, they often limit their empathy with MSM within the hospital context. On the other hand, MSM, trusting in the confidentiality of healthcare providers, feel safe in the care pathway. However, we identify the following stigmatizing factors limiting access to care include (1) fear of meeting a relative, (2) difficult relationships with non-medical support staff (mainly security guards), (3) HIV status disclosure and (4) potential conflicts with other MSM. This study is unique as it includes non-medical staff in its respondents. It shows that hospitals are divided into several areas, based on the stigma perceived by MSM. It is important to map out MSM’s care trajectories and spaces and to identify all types of staff working within them, including non-medical staff, and enrol them in stigma reduction interventions.