Cum Laude for Study Exploring Attitudes and Perceptions of Black Queer Men Towards PrEP
Mr Melusi Mntungwa was ecstatic to graduate cum laude with his Master of Arts (Media and Cultural Studies) degree from UKZN recently.
His dissertation explored the communicative practices, attitudes and perceptions of a sample of Black Men Who Have Sex with Men (BMSM) residing in the Msunduzi Local Municipality of KwaZulu-Natal in relation to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP).
The study examined if BMSM in the Msunduzi Local Municipality, knew about PrEP and established if they would be willing to take PrEP as a HIV preventative tool. This was done to ascertain if it would be feasible to implement PrEP amongst this group.
Mntungwa was motivated by the fact that although Medicines Council of South Africa approved Truvada as PrEP in 2015, very little had been done to implement this drug to underserved key populations such as BMSM. This was particularly true for BMSM that reside in non-metropolitan areas such as the Msunduzi Local Municipality. ‘It felt like these men’s voices were not being heard, and I wanted to in my small academic way lend a voice to this group of sidelined men, hence my choice of “voicing the voiceless” as my title,’ says Mntungwa.
The study revealed that there is significant potential for the implementation of PrEP amongst BMSM in Msunduzi Local Municipality, with most participants enthusiastic about taking PrEP when available. The findings suggest for effective implementation, such a programme would need to provide more education in order to address concerns such as PrEP’s impact on BMSM’s daily lives. Mntungwa further proposes that communication amongst friends and the use of BMSM’s social networks have the potential to encourage PrEP engagement and increase adherence self-efficacy.
During his study’s, Mntungwa presented his work at the South African AIDS conference, and the South African Communications conference. The Witness newspaper also published an article profiling his work.
Mntungwa thanked his supervisor, Ms Luthando Ngema, family and friends for their support. ‘I am especially grateful to all the men who participated in the study as well as Sphelele “Rooi” Ntsiba of the Pietermaritzburg Gay and Lesbian Network.’
He plans on pursuing a PhD in the future and advised students to work hard to achieve their goals.
Words: Melissa Mungroo
Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan