News / Africa

AIDS 2010 Calls for Treatment and Prevention Support for Men Having Sex with Men

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

As the HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to spread, new research shows it’s taking an increasing toll on men-having-sex-with men or MSM.  The issue was addressed at the 18th International AIDS conference in Vienna, with calls for greater funding and human rights efforts.

Activists say men having sex with men have been hit hard by the epidemic, but have not received nearly as much attention or resources as many other groups.  They’re hoping scientific data on the effects of HIV on MSM – released at the conference - will change that.

Shivananda Khan of India is with Naz Foundation International, which provides technical and development assistance to MSM groups in South Asia.  Khan says data from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health comes none too soon.

Shivananda Khan , Naz Foundation International
Shivananda Khan , Naz Foundation International

“We’ve been waiting a long time for this data.  I’ve been engaged in this area for 20 years and this is the first time I’m hearing this sort of data when from a day-to-day perspective we watch people every day for the last 20 years, getting infected and dying from HIV,” he says.

Who are they?

UNAIDS says the term – Men Having Sex with Men – describes a behavior rather than a group of people.  MSM includes self-identified gay, bisexual, or heterosexual men, many of whom, it says, may not even consider themselves gay or bisexual.

In 2008, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said, “In countries without laws to protect sex workers, drug users and men who have sex with men, only a fraction of the population has access to prevention.”  He added, “Not only is it unethical not to protect these groups; it makes no sense from a health perspective.  It hurts all of us.”

Khan warns of grave consequences if things don’t change.

He says, “Right now, if you look at the data from Asia and the Pacific, if there is no increase in HIV interventions for MSM and transgenders, then something like by the year 2020 – which is only 10 years away – 50 percent of all new infections will be MSM or transgenders.”

He says less than four percent of HIV/AIDS funding around the world goes to men having sex with men and transgenders.

“Nine out of ten, nine out of ten MSM and transgenders do not get services.  And right now in Asia, every day there are about 200 people – MSM and transgenders – getting infected because they don’t have services,” he says.

Joel Nana of Cameroon says the answer to the problem is readily available.

“What else are we waiting for?  I think we do have the solution.  The solution is services that target all the populations.”

Joel Nana, African Men for Sexual Health and Rights
Joel Nana, African Men for Sexual Health and Rights

Nana is executive director of African Men for Sexual Health and Rights.  He says besides more prevention and treatment services, MSM need what he calls “an enabling environment.”

“An enabling environment has three components.  There is the law component.  There is the law enforcement component and there is the access to justice component.  So if any of these three is not fulfilled, you do not have an enabling environment,” he says.

From the pulpit

Churches around the world often get involved in the debate over gay rights.  Their reaction has ranged from strong support to tolerance to fierce opposition.

Presbyterian minister Dr. Nyambura Njoroge is program executive of the Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiative in Africa of the World Council of Churches.

“Sexuality of men having sex with men is one of the most difficult and contested areas and sometimes religious leaders and followers are known to use violent language in expressing their views.  Violent language only creates fear and victimhood,” he says.

Rev. Nyambura Njoroge, World Council of Churches
Rev. Nyambura Njoroge, World Council of Churches

She says it’s important for the religious community to “dig deep” into religiosity and spirituality, adding, “For we know very well that human beings have physical, spiritual and sexual needs.”

MSM is a controversial issue that triggers strong emotions.  For example, in Malawi two men were prosecuted after they went public with their gay relationship.  In Uganda, legislation imposing harsh penalties for homosexuality is before parliament.  Similar stories can be found around the world.

Rev. Njoroge says the world’s sacred writings all have the same message.

“Human life is sacred.  And all human beings are created in the image of God.  And so, there is no one who is a misfit in the eyes of God.  And I think that is important for all of us who acknowledge,” he says.

MSM and transgender activists hope to play a bigger role at the 19th International AIDS Conference in 2012, when it’s held in the United States.

You May Like

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid