MSM and HIV in Ghana
Findings: Backgrounds of Respondents
The ages of those interviewed vary between 15 years and 40 years and above with the majority being in the younger age group. Over 75% of the respondents are aged between 15 years and 29 years with almost 50% being under 25 years.
The educational background of respondents spans all the levels of education with 12 (8.0%) having had no education at all. While 56 or 37.3% have primary education up to Junior Secondary School (JSS) Level, 52 or 34.7% have secondary education and 28 or 18.7% had tertiary education including vocational/technical training.
It must be emphasised that a number of respondents in the secondary and tertiary categories are currently in students (See Occupation).
The duration of involvement in MSM correlates fairly well with the age of respondents with most of the older men being involved the longest up to 30 years in one case. Over 90% of the 15 34 years age-group have been into MSM for periods ranging from below 1 year to 15 years and most of the 35 years and above being in it for between 16 and 30 years. This finding is contrary to the belief that MSM in the country is a new phenomenon being driven by homosexual tourists. When the age-group distribution is weighed against how long respondents have been involved in MSM, it was observed that most respondents were exposed to MSM very early in life. In most cases exposure took place before the age of 24 years and in some exceptional cases at the very early stages of the adolescence period.
Over 80% of the respondents are single, 12 (8.0%) are married, 5 (3.3%) divorced, and 8 (5.3%) separated. Some married men claim their wives know and approve their gay sex orientation.
"All my family, friends and my wife know about it. It is the way I was before I was born."
Others who got to know of their husbands sexual orientation later, have either divorced them, or are separated as a result.
"My wife found out I was in a gay relationship so she divorced me. I have 4 children with her but I stay alone at the moment."
In one instance after the wife got to know of the mans sex orientation, they agreed to stay together and take care of their children but have nothing sexual between them. The man now has the freedom to bring home his male friends and the wife does not complain.
The occupation of respondents also varies from unemployed through unskilled profession and white coloured jobs. While students make up the majority of the respondents a significant number are artisans or involved in jobs traditionally regarded as the occupation of women. Only 2 (1.4%) of respondents described themselves as Sex Workers.
It is also of importance that no man of high social class was interviewed, even though respondents gave indication of the involvement of such men as in the comments below:
"There are people in high places of authority like managers of companies, politicians and bankers who lure young men who are in financial difficulty into homosexuality promising to look after them."
"I think gays in Ghana must be seen as able people because there are doctors, teachers and other people who are gays. So when we are open we can help the nation."
The religion and ethnicity of the respondents are quite representative of the country at large with 67% of respondents being Christian and 11% being Moslem. Other reported religions include African Traditional and Asian Religions.
Most of the respondents (94.5%) are Ghanaians with the few other Ethnic groups (5.5%) made up of 6 Liberian Refugees, a Malian and a Nigerian. There was an apparent higher proportion of Gas/Dangmes but this is probably due to the fact that a number of the interviews were conducted in Ga communities. Otherwise the other ethnic groups are fairly well distributed.
Table 7: Ethnicity of Respondents
Table 7: Ethnicity of Respondents
A few respondents described themselves as displaced due to conditions in their home countries. Beside these 8 men, 29 others claim they are separated from their families. At least 111 (75%) of respondents gave indication that they are involved in MSM while staying with their families the majority of which is not known to the members of their families.