HIV understanding, experiences and perceptions of HIV-positive men who have sex with men in Amazonian Peru: a qualitative study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes


BACKGROUND: HIV-related incidence and mortality is increasing across Peru, with highest mortality rates recorded in the Amazonian region of Loreto. This epidemic is concentrated in men who have sex with men, a population with 14% HIV treatment adherence despite free national provision. This study investigates barriers and facilitators to following healthcare advice through experiences and perceptions of HIV-positive men who have sex with men and healthcare professionals in Loreto.

METHODS: Twenty qualitative interviews with HIV-positive men who have sex with men and one focus group with HIV-specialist healthcare professionals were conducted in Loreto, January-February 2019. Interviews were transcribed per verbatim. Thematic content analysis and deviant case analysis were used.

RESULTS: A culture of isolation and discrimination was identified, propagated by poor public knowledge surrounding HIV transmission and treatment. Employment potential was hampered and 7/20 patients had suicidal thoughts post-diagnosis. Barriers to care included: shame, depression, travel cost/times, a preference for traditional plant-based medicine and side-effects of antiretroviral therapy. Facilitators included: education, family and clinic support, disease acceptance and lifestyle changes.

CONCLUSION: More effective, focussed community education and workplace discrimination investigations are recommended to reduce stigma and increase adherence to treatment in this population.


Original languageEnglish
Article number728
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2020

Sustainable Development Goals