AIDS (Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a disease caused by a virus called HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). The illness alters the immune system, making people much more vulnerable to infections and diseases. This susceptibility worsens as the disease progresses.
In Mauritius, HIV is a concentrated epidemic, affecting mainly Injecting Drug users (IDUs), Commercial Sex Workers (CSW) and also Men having Sex with Men (MSM). Stigmatisation of gay men to HIV dates back to 1982 when HIV was known as the Gay Related Immune Deficiency (GRID).
Stigmatisation worsens HIV infection among Gay and Bi men
Despite knowing that HIV does not target a particular sex, age, religion, caste, social status or sexual orientation, the vulnerability of MSM to HIV is problematic, worsened by stigmatisation and discrimination of LGBT in Mauritius. It has been factually proven that homophobia was associated with reduced accessibility to services (including healthcare) while community engagement and comfort with health service providers increased accessibility to services (Jack et. al, 2012). 84% of MSM have undergone verbal violence and harassment and 7.4% victim of physical violence (IBBS 2012, 2012).
Projections and practices
1 in 5 MSM in Mauritius is HIV-positive and new models lead to believe that HIV among MSM will undergo a rise of 35% in the years to come. Low percentage of consistent condom use (30% always use condom) and multiple sex-partners (55% have 2 or more partners in 3 months) are factors leading to such a high rate of infection among MSM. Furthermore, only 2.2% of MSM who are living with HIV have been detected. The remaining 97.8% of MSM who are HIV positive are still not screened, and these pose a risk to their partners (male and female) and other MSM who will eventually be infected.
More than 50% of young MSM have had a sexual relationship at the age of 16 and experienced same-sex sexual relationship at 17 years. With MSM being riskier, use of condom AND lube, HIV-testing, being faithful and solo-sex are to be encouraged in terms of sexual practices while policy and legal change make their way
- HIV is a virus while AIDS is a medical condition with syndrome appearing at the advanced stages of HIV infection.
- In Mauritius, roughly 1% of the population is living with HIV, with the most at risk people being Injecting Drug Users, Men having Sex with Men and Commercial Sex Workers.
- During a sexual encounter, the safest way to prevent HIV transmission is by using a condom and water based lubricant.
- Only 1 in 4 youngsters use a condom during a sexual encounter.
- In case of a condom breaking or an at risk behaviour, a Post Exposure Prophylaxis earliest within the coming 72 hours is recommended to reduce risk of HIV transmission.
- Testing centres in Mauritius: http://www.pils.mu/depistage/les-centres-de-depistagesa-maurice.html
- Sida-Info Hotline: 8999