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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs