Social marginalization harms lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons’ wellbeing in Lesotho. Socio-cultural mechanisms linking LGBT stigma, depression, substance use, and HIV among LGBT persons in Lesotho are understudied. We explore associations between LGBT stigma, mental health stressors, and HIV vulnerabilities among LGBT persons in Lesotho. We conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 46 LGBT persons and six key informants (e.g. healthcare providers). Participants described depression, substance use, and HIV as mutually reinforcing and situated in larger social contexts of stigma. Alcohol use was a stigma coping strategy and a way to build LGBT connections. At the same time, alcohol use elevated HIV vulnerabilities by lowering condom use uptake. Pervasive stigma reinforced barriers to healthcare engagement. Community-led support and services were leveraged to navigate stigma, reduce HIV vulnerabilities, and ultimately improve health. Findings emphasize the key role contexts play in shaping sexual and mental health among LGBT persons in Lesotho.
- Mental health
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases