To date the function of World AIDS Day and what it signifies has been an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. This year WAD is celebrating its sweet 16, and to me it should be a circumspect celebration of man and life.
Health4Men cautions that Uganda’s proposed anti-homosexuality bill will have devastating consequences for the country’s HIV epidemic.
The controversial bill that includes a provision for the execution of homosexuals is being reviewed by the Ugandan parliament this week and may be voted into legislation shortly.
Health4Men, a project of the Anova Health Institute, have established Africa’s first public sector clinics dedicated to the sexual health needs of men who have sex with men – irrespective of whether they identify as gay or straight. Through its clinics in Cape Town, Soweto, Pretoria and Mafikeng, Health4Men personnel offer comprehensive HIV and sexual health care for all MSM and have built a sound reputation providing training and technical support to the public health system.
It is Health4Men’s experience that environments that are hostile to men who have sex with men and gay-identifying men in particular, can severely compound the HIV pandemic by feeding stigma, prejudice and shame, ultimately discouraging men from men assuming responsibility for their sexual health.
Importantly, where homosexuality is frowned upon or criminalised, men are very unlikely to seek out medical support and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV.
Health4Men thus join the international call on the Ugandan President Museveni to veto the bill and to adopt a pro-human rights stance in their attempts to address HIV and AIDS in Uganda.
Rather than criminalising sex between consenting adults, the government should be doing all in their power to promote responsible behaviour among all citizens through inclusive and affirming prevention and treatment campaigns that do not alienate an already marginalised sector of society.
Contact Glenn de Swardtat Health4Men (t) 021 421 6127 (m) 071 671 5875 or email@example.com