HIV Risk Among Men Who Have Sex With Men, Women Who Have Sex With Women, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Populations in South Africa: A Mini-Review

Meredith G. B. Evans1, *, Allanise Cloete2, Nompumelelo Zungu2, Leickness C. Simbayi2, 3
1 HUMA (Institute for Humanities in Africa) and Department of Sociology, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
2 HAST (HIV/AIDS, STIs and TB) Program, Human Sciences Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa
3 Department of Psychiatry & Mental Health, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

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Creative Commons License
© Evans et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the HUMA, Neville Alexander Building, University Avenue, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, Cape Town 7700,Cape Town, South Africa; E-mail:



The HIV epidemic in South Africa is characterized mainly by heterosexual transmission. Recently, the importance of targeting key populations and marginalized groups, including men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people, has been added to the national agenda.


This mini-review explores the current state of empirical research on HIV risk and MSM, women who have sex with women (WSW), lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) populations in South Africa in order to assess the current state of research and identify gaps in the literature.


Peer-reviewed empirical social and behavioral articles on HIV prevalence and risk focusing on MSM, WSW, and LGBT populations published since 2006 were included in this mini-review.


In total 35 articles were included: 30 on MSM, gay, and/or bisexual male-identified populations, three on WSW, lesbian, and/or bisexual female-identified populations, two on LGB youth, and none on transgender populations.


Despite South Africa being the country with the largest number of people living with HIV in the world, there is a limited amount of research in South Africa on HIV and non-normative gender identities and sexualities, especially WSW, lesbian, and/or bisexual female-identified populations, transgender populations, and LGB youth. Research with MSM, WSW, and LGBT populations should be prioritized in South Africa in order to appropriately inform HIV prevention strategies that meet the specific needs of these marginalized groups.

Keywords: Bisexuality, HIV, Homosexuality, Men who have sex with men, South Africa, Transgender persons, Women who have sex with women.