Supported by Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA), Men Of the Night Uganda (MONU) last week held their inaugural session for the quarterly program dubbed Men Chat Mondays #MCM. The program will use the Focus Group Discussions approach with the aim of stirring up unfiltered conversations covering a wide range of topics especially in regards to health issues that affect Men who have Sex with Men (MSMs) in Uganda.
Cameron Kakande, the Executive Director of MONU said, "We hope to unpack those uncomfortable health issues about our bodies. This program will increase knowledge about various health services that have been availed to our members and where they can access them."
The first episode of Men Chat Mondays focused on Anal Health among male sexual minorities. The participants freely asked questions and shared their views concerning anal hygiene, infections and treatment. Some anal infections that were discussed included anal warts caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which exposes an individual to higher risk of contracting anal cancer, anal gonorrhea and hemorrhoids. Participants also dismantled the different myths that surround anal health among MSMs.
Dr. Teddy, the Clinical Doctor at IceBreakers Uganda advised against the use of some methods that were not proper for anal hygiene like the use of herbal products and Coke to enhance tightness of the anal muscles. Dr. Teddy recommended the use of "cleansing" (detoxification) and balanced diets with vegetables to help maintain the stability of one's own body system. The participants were also given tips on douching, shaving and washing to ensure good anal health.
Emphasis was placed on MSMs seeking medical attention for treatment in case of any symptoms of an anal infection. However, Dr. Teddy stressed the importance of regular anal examinations at least once every 6 months because some MSMs refuse to seek proper health care simply because their signs or symptoms have disappeared. She explained that usually, these become recurring symptoms that must be attended to by a health worker. She further suggested the need to advocate for anal pap smears since anal cancer is caused by HPV, the same virus that causes cervical cancer among women.
MONU is an organization under UNESO Uganda that advocates for the rights and visibility of CIS gender men (gay, bisexual and MSM) that identify as sex workers. It operates in 5 districts in Uganda (Kampala, Wakiso, Mukono, Jinja and Mbale and offers various activities which include PrEP and HTC services.