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

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid