Authors: Praditporn Pongtriang, Anthony Paul O’ Brien and Jane Maguire
Health services are central to the provision of services for those affected by HIV including, prevention, health promotion and treatment. Access to health services for gay men is significant in increasing their knowledge associated with issues relevant to HIV so that they can better protect and care for themselves. Aim: This ethnographic study sought to clarify and further understand the experience of Bangkok’s gay men and their access to health services relevant to HIV issues. Methods: Thirty-one gay men from Bangkok participated in this study that involved 45 to 60 minute, semi structured in-depth interviews undertaken at the Thai Red Cross Research Centre. All interview transcripts were translated from Thai to English. The NVivo program version 10 was utilised to organise the data coding and thematic development of interview transcripts. Result: This study identified that there are few specific clinics for gay men with HIV in Thailand. Additionally, information associated with HIV and other related concerns are required to be more accurate and specific to men living with HIV. Many participants commonly described privacy concerns as a barrier to accessing health care services. Most men experienced feelings of embarrassment when utilising services alongside heterosexual clients and described being looked down upon for accessing services associated with STDs, or HIV issues. Conclusion: The government should provide more specific clinics and information for Thai gay men, which include issues related to confidentiality and anonymity. The location of services for gay men could be separated to ensure that privacy will be protected during the entire experience of using services. This may assist in eliminating some of the many barriers faced by gay men when accessing health services.
Keywords: Gay men; Health services; HIV; Experience