LGBT+ Health Division

March 2022 – February 2023

The LGBT+ Health Division was rebranded from the Key Populations Division in 2022, recognising our focus and aim to promote equitable access to appropriate and affirming healthcare for LGBTQI+ populations through research, community engagement and advocacy. We also brought on board a new Project Manager in October 2022, Lynn Bust (MPH), who is a health policy and systems researcher by training and passionate member of the LGBTQI+ community. Her primary work in the Division is to conceptualise and develop new research projects, expand funding opportunities, and support our extensive advocacy and community engagement program. The LGBT+ Health Division’s work has focused on several key areas in this review period:

Clinical trials

We continue to participate in several groundbreaking clinical trials in HIV prevention. Men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender men and women are disproportionately affected by HIV and most of our prevention trials have focused on these populations. We are an accredited clinical research site (CRS) for the NIH Division of AIDS sponsored HPTN 083 trial. This double-blind safety and efficacy study of injectable Cabotegravir compared to daily oral Tenofovir Disoproxil Fumarate/Emtricitabine (TDF/FTC) as PrEP has shown that injectable Cabotegravir given every two months is superior to oral PrEP in preventing HIV infection. This injectable prevention option was registered for use in South Africa in November 2022. In 2022 we also started enrolling MSM and transgender men and women on the Gilead PURPOSE 2 study, which is a PrEP trial of Lenacapavir, a long working injectable drug that can be given once every six months. Our site has been very successful at enrolling participants for this potentially groundbreaking study. We have successfully reached out to the transgender community who are at a very high risk of HIV and our recruitment efforts have resulted in transgender participants making up almost 40% of the trials participants. This has created greater awareness of the health needs of the transgender community for compassionate gender affirming care which will be a key focus of our division in years to come.

Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Workshops 

In South Africa, stigma and discrimination is one of the key barriers to health care for LGBTQI+ people. Many LGBTQI+ people have been refused care or discriminated against by health care workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity in public health facilities. In response to this, we have developed sexual orientation and gender identity sensitisation and training tools to promote LGBTQI+ inclusive environments. One general public education tool that we have developed is our SOGI universe. This is an open access resource for all to use freely with the aim to spread awareness, promote inclusion, increase knowledge and start dialogues around SOGI concepts. We have also developed a four-hour workshop that unpacks the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity and health issues impacting LGBTQI+ people, shares lived experience and engages critical thinking on creating LGBTQI+ inclusive health care environments. Our aim is to improve the provision of appropriate and affirming LGBTQI+ health services and integrate them into public health facilities.

People whose sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) do not conform to the majority may experience hostility and exclusion in everyday life. The LGBT+ Health Division has created a simple way to help you understand some of the SOGI terms. The SOGI Universe is an open access resource for all to use freely with the hope that the Universe will spread awareness, promote inclusion, increase knowledge and start dialogues around SOGI concepts.

Click below to read more about the SOGI Universe and to download our free resources

LGBTQI+ Health & Advocacy Day: 

Our second successful annual LGBTQI+ Health & Advocacy Day was held on the 26th of November 2022 at the Old Biscuit Mill, bringing together over 100 attendees including LGBTQI+ health service providers, researchers, civil society, and community members to share information about health research and services for the LGBTQI+ community in Cape Town. The day was organized by the LGBT+ Health Division in collaboration with other LGBTQI+ organisations and focused on gender diverse youth and mental health for LGBTQI+ populations amongst other topics.

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