Lesbians don’t realise HIV risk

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Lesbians have been ignored in the fight against HIV because of the myth that they are not at risk of contracting the virus, according to researchers. Speaking at the recent SA Aids Conference, they said both NGO and government policies and campaigns neglected lesbians, reports The Times.

Dr Gemma Oberth, a visiting academic at the UCT Centre for Social Science Research, undertook a literature review of eight academic studies on lesbians in Southern Africa in order to see whether these women were, in fact, at lower risk of HIV.

It has been thought that it is far less likely that a woman will transmit HIV to another (because a smaller amount of fluid is involved when two women have sex). “But this is not the reality (in South Africa),” said Oberth. She explained that this was because “lesbian sex, injecting drugs, rape, sex with males and sex for financial survival are all interlinked”.

About a third of women in the studies said they had been raped. Oberth said that in one study 20% of lesbians believed they had acquired HIV from a female partner and said they had never had a male partner or taken drugs. The women did not know if they had been born with HIV.

Full report in The Times

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