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Love and Intimacy as Vulnerability to HIV Infection: A Case Study of MSM

Social Work Chronicle

Volume 5 Issue 1

Published: 2016
Author(s) Name: Archana Kaushik | Author(s) Affiliation: Associate Professor, Department of Social Work, University of Delhi, Delhi, India
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Abstract

Sexual minorities are among the most marginalized groups in the society. Sero-positivity accentuates social exclusion among the sexual minorities. The paper aims to appraise the factors that make Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) vulnerable to HIV infection and influence their health seeking behaviors. It highlights two major domains– socio-cultural and interpersonal variables. Qualitative in nature and based on ten in-depth case studies of HIV infected MSM, the study is located in Delhi, India. Factors such as age, marital status, child sexual abuse, multiple sex partners, are crucial in influencing their vulnerability. Socio-cultural milieu puts structural barriers restricting integration of MSM in the society. Cultural values do not allow talking about sex, which hampers healthy sexual behaviors. Exhibiting aggression, sexual violence, visiting sex-workers etc. are considered as important aspects to prove manhood. At the interpersonal level, possessiveness, betrayal, infidelity, heartbreak, strong emotional whirlpool when love-relations go incongruent, all takes a heavy toll of their mental and physical health. These variables socially exclude the sexual minorities from the mainstream life. Findings show positive (disclosing to family, abstinence, spiritual growth) and negative (suicide-attempts, drug-use) ways of coping among the MSM respondents. Critical areas of concern for service-providers while planning interventions for empowering people with sexual minority are delineated.

Keywords: MSM, HIV, Vulnerability, Inter-Personal Relationship, Socio-Cultural Factors, Coping

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