How Stigma Impacts LGBT People’s Health and General wellbeing in Africa

08 Feb, 2019
Studies comparing LGBT and straight individuals in low-stigma communities indicate that there is little or no difference on their health and general wellbeing. On the other hand, there are much larger differences when comparing LGBT and straight people in communities with high-stigma cases.

In the continent where many countries still criminalizes same-sex activities, the lack of acceptance of LGBT individuals and the dearth of social support that they should be receiving are to a large extent responsible for their overall poor health and general wellbeing.

The stance against the LGBT community is one of the big concerns from both ethical and human rights perspectives. The stigma poses serious risks from prom the public health perspective.

HIV Threat

Men who engage in the same-sex activities with other men now account for a substantial minority of those affected by HIV, with their risk of infection more double than that of the general population.

Since most African countries also harbor homophobic cultures and negative attitudes. This also creates an environment where homosexuality is highly stigmatized, with our LGBT community socially isolated and marginalized.

Stigmatizing gay individuals cripples any initiative that is aimed at preventing HIV transmission among the members or to provide treatment and care to HIV-positive individual.

Studies also indicates that in places where same-sex-activities has been criminalized, LGBT people are more likely to avoid HIV testing or seeking knowledge and counseling about safer sex since they will risk exposure.

But beyond this, increased levels of stigma – which inevitably results from criminalization and social prejudice – mean that LGBT individuals are actually more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior.

Mental health and well-being

The decimation of LGBT people and stigmatization of homosexuality has further implications for health and the general well-being.

Most of the times, individuals who experiences any type of stigma and marginalization also experiences considerable stress.

Evidence also shows that living with stress has direct repercussions on one’s health. Not also does it place individuals at greater risk of mental health problems, but chronic stress is also linked with physica;l health outcomes, such as the heart disease.

Conversely, LGBT people with strong social networks and support tend to have better mental and physical health outcomes.

In most places, LGBT people experience far higher rates of depression, anxiety and other stress-related disorders compared to the straight people. This dress is most likely to arise from discrimination, rejection, and concealment.

This report is consistent with the notion that the disadvantage experienced by LGBT community in the African society stems from social environments that are hostile to them.

Inclusive policies, such as the same-sex marriage provision, will undoubtedly contribute to improving the visibility of our LGBT community and normalizing our life experiences.

But more is needed to redress the social inequality experienced by the LGB community. As our research indicates, tackling cultural forms of stigma and providing commensurate social support to our LGB T community from our heterosexual neighbors is part of the solution