Gauteng has the lowest rate of HIV infection among gay men, while Kwazulu Natal has the highest rate of infection among lesbians, says a new study.

The results of the study were presented on Thursday at a public lecture in Pretoria by Theo Sandfort. The report is titled HIV testing, and HIV status in South African MSM and WSW: results from a community-based study.

The presentation collated data collected between 2003 and 2006 by community-based organisations in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape and identified which gay men and women have been tested for HIV and among those tested, who are likely to report being HIV positive.

According to the preliminary results, gay men in the Western Cape have the highest rate of HIV infection, 10 percent, compared to Gauteng’s infection rate of eight percent. The study found that gay men who tested positive tended to be older and self employed.

With regard to lesbians, those in KwaZulu-Natal have the highest rate of HIV infection. Sandfort attributed the rate of these women’s infection to many being raped or being sex workers.

Since the start of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa, little attention has been paid to its impact on gays and lesbians, said the event’s organisers – something which the presentation sought to address.

Theo Sandfort, PhD, is Associate Professor at Columbia University, New York. His research focuses on sexuality and health, specifically concerning sexual minorities.

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