An exploratory assessment of health services in meeting the sexual-health needs of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people in Durban: a case study of students in the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Mkhize, Sthembiso Pollen.
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Access to health services is regarded as an essential component of good health and personal development. However, several studies suggest that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) are often marginalised, discriminated and socially excluded by the health care system. Studies suggest that despite guaranteed constitutional freedoms for same-sex activities, societies continually hold prejudice beliefs towards LGBT. Negative attitudes towards the LGBT in health services have indicated that, despite the progressiveness of the legislation; cultural and religious prejudice remain strong. Research evidence demonstrates that there are factors that influences the utilization of health services among the LGBT. These factors may be promoting and inhibiting to their decisions for utilizing available sexual health services. The aim of this study was to provide insights into the utilization of sexual health services among LGBT students in Durban. The qualitative data used in this study was collected from twelve LGBT individuals at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The findings of this study showed that the inhibiting factors to use health services outweighs the promoting factors to use health services among LGBT. In the interviews, participants emphasized that the South African health system has failed the LGBT community by marginalizing them through providing heterosexual accommodating public health services. Participants noted that the clinics provided within and outside the university lack sexual health resources and preventative measure required by the LGBT. However, it was clear that private foreign health organizations focusing on reducing health disparities for the LGBT has played a pivotal role in delivery of appropriate health care that is competent and accessible for the LGBT as they have promoted justice and destabilised heterosexuality in health care. Participants also perceived health providers callous and judgemental, and they highlighted that they are not only mean towards the LGBT, but also to the heterosexual patients. This study recommends normalising of homosexuality in public health services through publicizing posters and brochures that addresses the sexual health concerns of the LGBT, unrestricted access and displaying of lubricants, dental dams and finger cots, and also establishing an advanced LGBT health training programme in medical schools and health institutions to expose medical students and health providers to the sexual health needs of the LGBT. Everyone deserves access to good quality health care regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.