Experiences of homosexuals' access to primary health care services in Umlazi, KwaZulu-Natal
Cele, Nokulunga Harmorny
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Introduction Access to effective health care is at the heart of the discourse on how to achieve the health related Millennium Development Goals. Lesbian and gay persons are affected by a range of social and structural factors in their environment, and as a result have unique health needs that might not be met by existing health care services. Sexual stigma remains a barrier to seeking appropriate health care. Lesbians and gays might delay seeking health care when needed or avoid it all together, because of past discrimination or perceived homophobia within the health care system. Aim of the study The aim of the study was explore and describe the accessibility of primary health care services to lesbians and gays in Umlazi in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Methodology A qualitative, exploratory, descriptive study was conducted which was contextual in nature. Aday and Andersons’ theoretical framework of access was chosen to guide this study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 lesbian and gay participants. The findings of this study were analysed using content analysis. Results Four major themes that emerged from the data analysis were discrimination of homosexual men and women by health care providers and community members in PHC facilities; attitudes of homosexual men and women towards health care providers; homophobic behaviour and equality of PHC services. Few participants were satisfied with the primary health care services they received. Intervention by the Department of Health, Department of Education, curriculum planners and Health Professionals Councils is recommended wherein homosexuality education should be addressed during pre-service and in-service education sessions so as to familiarise health care providers with such clients’ health care needs and to decreased homophobic attitudes.