News / Health

Discrimination Against Gays Threatens Spread of HIV/AIDS

FILE - Supporters of the anti-gay law prepare for a procession backing the signing of the anti-gay bill into law, in Uganda's capital, Kampala.
FILE - Supporters of the anti-gay law prepare for a procession backing the signing of the anti-gay bill into law, in Uganda's capital, Kampala.
Lisa Schlein

The World Health Organization says discrimination, stigmatization and laws that criminalize homosexual and transgender behavior are hampering these people from getting the health services they need. The WHO is also warning HIV/AIDS will spread if gays and other people at high-risk fail to get access to HIV prevention and treatment.

Anti-retroviral therapy is successfully keeping millions of people with HIV alive.  Yet millions of people who are most at risk of infection are not receiving these life-saving drugs or other essential care.

The World Health Organization says men who have sex with men, people in prison, people who inject drugs, sex workers and transgender people are facing discriminatory laws and policies in many countries, which are preventing them from gaining access to HIV prevention, testing and treatment services. 

WHO says stigmatization and laws criminalizing so-called deviant behavior discourages high-risk people from seeking help and are driving the disease underground. 

WHO HIV Department Director Gottfried Hirnschall said these policies are counter-productive and threaten to spread the epidemic in the broader community. 

"Obviously, these people-men who have sex with men, injected drug users-they do not live in isolation and we see overlap of these behaviors. Somebody who uses drugs can be an MSM (man who has sex with men) [who] can sell sex.  Somebody, who is a sex worker will have partners, may have children, etc.  So, obviously there are these linkages that are very important," said Hirnschall. 

By the end of 2013, WHO reports around 13 million people were receiving antiretroviral therapy.  Most of these people are living in poor-and-middle-income countries. This has led to a 20 percent drop in HIV-related deaths. While this is good news, the WHO says preventive efforts are still lagging behind, particularly among the high-risk groups.

UNAIDS Rights, Gender, Prevention and Community Mobilization Director Mariangela Simao said many people do not seek treatment for HIV because they fear their right to confidentiality will be breeched.     

“This has been threatened lately, at least in two countries - in Nigeria and in Uganda, related to the obligation of anybody to report if they know of someone who is a gay man or a lesbian. We have reports from these countries that have documented serious disruptions in the availability and access to HIV and other health services, following the promulgation of these laws," said Simao. 

The World Health Organization is launching new guidelines on HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care focusing on these five key high-risk groups in advance of next week's AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia. 

The guidelines include a range of clinical recommendations and stress the need for countries to remove the legal and social barriers that are preventing many people from accessing life-saving services.  

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid