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Strings AttachedAIDS and the Rise of Transnational Connections in Africa$
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Nadine Beckmann, Alessandro Gusman, and Catrine Shroff

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265680

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265680.001.0001

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The Mode of Transmission That Dare Not Speak Its Name: Islam, AIDS and the Public Secret of Homosexuality in Northern Nigeria

The Mode of Transmission That Dare Not Speak Its Name: Islam, AIDS and the Public Secret of Homosexuality in Northern Nigeria

Chapter:
(p.311) 15 The Mode of Transmission That Dare Not Speak Its Name: Islam, AIDS and the Public Secret of Homosexuality in Northern Nigeria
Source:
Strings Attached
Author(s):

Jack Ume Tocco

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197265680.003.0015

This chapter addresses the secrecy surrounding homosexuality in Northern Nigeria and its implications for HIV transmission and prevention. Masu harka (‘men who have sex with men’) enjoy considerable latitude to pursue same-sex relationships given male privilege and Islamic norms of gender segregation. However they nearly always marry women and keep knowledge of their homosexuality hidden. Rights-based responses to AIDS, predicated on public admissions of risk-specific identity, have failed to yield initiatives that address the sexual health of masu harka in this context. Institutional inaction, sexual secrecy, and heightened bio-behavioural risks have resulted in HIV burden among masu harka that is much greater than among the general population. Because masu harka are sexually well integrated into the broader society, they contribute disproportionately, if unwittingly, to Northern Nigeria’s AIDS epidemic. This underscores the need for HIV interventions that specifically address male-to-male sexual transmission while recognising the difficulties such initiatives would face.

Keywords:   HIV/AIDS, Islam, homosexuality, secrecy, human rights, sexual networks, Nigeria

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