In Ghana, men who have sex with men often fail to access critical HIV information and services due to deep-rooted fear of social stigma. The Ghana Men’s Study, conducted in 2011,1 revealed a high level of HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men in five sites in Ghana (17.5 percent), with the highest rates in the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions: 34.4 percent and 13.6 percent respectively. This study also found that less than half of the men who have sex with men population surveyed had been reached with HIV prevention services.
Since 2010 year, the Strengthening HIV/AIDS Response Partnership with Evidenced-Based Results (SHARPER) project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and implemented by FHI 360, has worked to reduce HIV transmission among men who have sex with men and other most-at-risk groups. The project operates in 30 districts with high HIV prevalence, with the goal of reaching 178,000 individuals with health behavior messages and improved access to health services by June 2014.
Before 2012, SHARPER relied on peer education alone to reach this key population. We found, however, that less than 10 percent of the men in this group referred by peer educators for HIV testing were positive. Clearly, new strategies were needed to identify those most at risk of HIV and link them with prevention and care services.