Title : Increase access to Mental Health Care ( MHC) services and HIV/AIDS awareness, testing and support among the Young LGBTQ+ community through use of social media in Mityana city
Research shows that young LGBTQ+ community in Mityana City have less access to MHC services and HIV information, testing and support thereby being at a risk of HIV infections. Vijana Na Children Foundation-Uganda (VINACEF) used social media to provide access to information and support services. This study focussed on observing whether youth LGBTQ+ community who access Mental Health Care screening and HIV information can seek testing and support from ‘’friendly’’ providers.
VINACEF approached leaders of LGBTQ+ community who helped us to identify LGBTS peers (70 in total aged 19-25 and 50 were male). VINACEF trained them as peer educators in prevention and support. It enrolled them on social media to help with rolling out the opening of peers’ accounts and orienting them on usage. VINACEF peer educators issued coupons to enable ‘’peers’’ for access internet periodically. Educators started social media discussions on HIV awareness and support. Peer Educators issued referrals/treatment vouchers to enable LGBTQ peers access free services and more information in ‘’friendly’’ centres. A data tracking tool was developed/used to collect data periodically, analysed it to come up with results. A total of 948 peers were reached during the study.
45% MHC services and HIV/AIDS related risks awareness, prevention and care among young LGBTQ+ community was realised from 51% at baseline. 35% of the target peer navigators had social media accounts at baseline compared to 98% at the end of the study. 91% MSM compared to 71% WSW ably used social media to share concerns with ‘’their peer navigators’’. 61% WSW picked coupons to access MHC screening and HIV testing services compared to 89%MSM.At baseline 42% believed that Mental Health Care screening stops HIV transmission compared to 8% at the end of the study. 13% of enrolled peer navigators tested positive to HIV, enrolled on ART program and MHC support groups. 24% accessed STIs’ treatment and 88% accessed condoms and MHC psycho social support.
Findings suggested that a big proportion of young LGBTQ+ community in Mityana can access MHC services and HIV related information through social media and accelerate MHC services and HIV awareness among them. Young LGBTQ+ community friendly strategies should be explored to increase access to friendly services, Knowledge on MHC services should be intensified and appropriate networks for support are important in warranting young LGBTQ+ community access to friendly services.