Original Paper

AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 717-723

First online:

Levels and Correlates of Internalized Homophobia Among Men Who Have Sex with Men in Pretoria, South Africa

  • Lung VuAffiliated withHIV and AIDS Program, Population Council Email author 
  • , Waimar TunAffiliated withHIV and AIDS Program, Population Council
  • , Meredith SheehyAffiliated withHIV and AIDS Program, Population Council
  • , Dawie NelAffiliated withOUT LGBT Well Being

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This study examines levels and correlates of internalized homophobia among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Pretoria, South Africa. Using respondent-driven sampling, we recruited 324 MSM from February to August 2009. Results were adjusted using RDSAT analysis to yield population-based estimates. High levels of internalized homophobia exist among South African MSM: 10–15% reported “often/very often” and over 20% reported “sometimes” having feelings of internalized homophobia. A greater level of internalized homophobia was significantly associated with a lower level of education [Adjusted Odds Ratio = 2.2; 95% CI = 1.1–4.9], a higher level of HIV misinformation [AOR = 2.7; 95% CI: 1.3–5.3], bisexual identity (vs. homosexual) [AOR = 5.5; 95% CI: 2.5–12.0], and HIV-related conspiracy beliefs [AOR = 2.4; 95% CI: 1.02–5.8]. These findings contribute valuable information to our understanding of internalized homophobia in South Africa, highlighting the need to empower the gay community, promote self-acceptance of homosexual identity, and address conspiracy beliefs among MSM to reduce internalized homophobia and increase access to HIV prevention interventions.


Internalized homophobia Men who have sex with men Conspiracy beliefs HIV risks South Africa