The invisible L word: the struggles to achieve SRHR, as HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment for lesbian population

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Mbaama Millicent Marian, a Ghanaian who lives and schools medicine in Ukraine. She is currently in her 3rd year at Sumy State University.. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


The sexual health of homosexual women today suffers from medical and social invisibility. Even the health of heterosexual women, has been subsumed throughout history, especially regarding sexual health, focusing only on reproduction.

When rates of HIV / AIDS infections were rising in the population, the erroneous conclusion that homosexual women would be immune to the virus was not only a step back in medical research, but also meant a setback with regard to the sexual health knowledge of women who have sex with other women. The idea of ​​non-contamination in the absence of penetration, comes from the assumption, sometimes wrong, of the identity statement and the particular sexual practices.

When we speak, specifically, about gynecology, the focus on the “lesbian body”, historically does not exist, mainly because of the fallacy, until recently accepted, that homosexuality would be a nymphomania or psychiatric disorder. As for the scientific production on sexual health of lesbian women, it is still scarce and ends up contributing to the group’s exposure to the contagion of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and HIV / AIDS.

Not only does invisibility and historical fetishization permeate medical knowledge about sexual practices and the risks this population suffers, but it is currently possible to note the lack of technical and quality information, among medical students and doctors, in guiding safe sex practices and the prevention of ISTs contagion among LGBTQI +, especially on the lesbian population. Since the doctor himself is unable to provide satisfactory guidance, the patient ends up looking for alternative sources of knowledge, which are not always properly grounded.

This invisibility places sexually active homosexual women at risk of exposure, allied to the lack of medical knowledge, causes an inability to guide safe practices and answer simple questions, such as the probability of HIV contraction in sex between vulvas , or even how to do prevention in these cases. As well as it increases the struggle to achieve health based on full sexual and reproductive health rights.

References:

ALMEIDA, G. S. de. Da invisibilidade à vulnerabilidade: percursos do “corpo lésbico” na cena brasileira face à possibilidade de infecção por DST e Aids. 2005, 344 p. Tese (Doutorado em Saúde Coletiva) – Instituto de Medicina Social, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, 2005.        

PARKER, Richard G.; AGGLETON, Peter. Estigma, discriminação e Aids. Rio de Janeiro. ABIA, 2001 (Coleção ABIA – Cidadania e Direitos, n. 1).    

VAL, Alexandre Costa et al .“Nunca Me Falaram sobre Isso!”: o Ensino das Sexualidades na Perspectiva de Estudantes de uma Escola Federal de Medicina. Rev. bras. educ. med.,  Brasília ,  v. 43, n. 1, supl. 1, p. 108-118,    2019.

MORETTI-PIRES, Rodrigo Otávio et al . Preconceito contra Diversidade Sexual e de Gênero entre Estudantes de Medicina de 1º ao 8º Semestre de um Curso da Região Sul do Brasil. Rev. bras. educ. med.,  Brasília ,  v. 43, n. 1, supl. 1, p. 557-567,    2019 .

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