Experiences of Kenyan healthcare workers providing services to men who have sex with men: qualitative findings from a sensitivity training programme.
van der Elst EM., Gichuru E., Omar A., Kanungi J., Duby Z., Midoun M., Shangani S., Graham SM., Smith AD., Sanders EJ., Operario D.
INTRODUCTION: Men who have sex with men (MSM) in Kenya are at high risk for HIV and may experience prejudiced treatment in health settings due to stigma. An on-line computer-facilitated MSM sensitivity programme was conducted to educate healthcare workers (HCWs) about the health issues and needs of MSM patients. METHODS: Seventy-four HCWs from 49 ART-providing health facilities in the Kenyan Coast were recruited through purposive sampling to undergo a two-day MSM sensitivity training. We conducted eight focus group discussions (FGDs) with programme participants prior to and three months after completing the training programme. Discussions aimed to characterize HCWs' challenges in serving MSM patients and impacts of programme participation on HCWs' personal attitudes and professional capacities. RESULTS: Before participating in the training programme, HCWs described secondary stigma, lack of professional education about MSM, and personal and social prejudices as barriers to serving MSM clients. After completing the programme, HCWs expressed greater acknowledgement of MSM patients in their clinics, endorsed the need to treat MSM patients with high professional standards and demonstrated sophisticated awareness of the social and behavioural risks for HIV among MSM. CONCLUSIONS: Findings provide support for this approach to improving health services for MSM patients. Further efforts are needed to broaden the reach of this training in other areas, address identified barriers to HCW participation and evaluate programme effects on patient and HCW outcomes using rigorous methodology.