Africa’s homophobia hinders access to prevention and Tx

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Africa was a place of phobia for men who have sex with men thanks to the homophobia that was imported from the Commonwealth, according to Constitutional Court Judge Edwin Cameron.

IoL reports he was speaking at a panel discussion at the 21st International AIDS Conference in Durban.

The report said the panel discussion focused on discriminatory laws and policies that hindered access to HIV prevention, treatment and care for vulnerable populations such as transgender people, men who have sex with men, sex workers and people who inject drugs.

The HIV struggle, Cameron said, was about inclusion, consultation, representation and ownership. He said that when he was diagnosed with HIV 31 years ago, he had to struggle for representation and ownership. Ridding the world of HIV and Aids needed to start with human rights because it was the correct and scientific thing to do. “We must protect the rights of key populations like sex workers.”

Protection of minorities was an indispensable tool to dealing with the epidemic.

The report says the latest UNAIDS data showed that vulnerable populations accounted for more than one-third of all new HIV infections globally. Compared to the general population, transgender people were 49 times more likely to be living with HIV; men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs were 24 times more likely to become infected with HIV; sex workers were 10 times more likely to become infected and prisoners were five times more likely to be living with HIV.

“We will not end Aids without addressing the needs of the most vulnerable individuals and communities, yet far too many are currently being left behind,” said Chris Beyrer, AIDS 2016 International chair and president of the International AIDS Society. “Protecting human rights is not just a moral issue, it is a scientific issue. Research presented at this conference will demonstrate that exclusion and discrimination help fuel the spread of HIV,” he is quoted in the report as saying.

Full IoL report

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