From the Monitor Newspaper
News | May 24, 2008
A study conducted recently in
The study that was based on 224 gay and bisexual men’s views found that “37 percent had unprotected receptive anal sex in the last six months, 27 percent were paid for sex, 18 percent paid for sex, 11 percent had history of urethral discharge”.
Yet perception that gay and bisexual men are at risk for HIV infection was low, according to the authors.
“Our study demonstrates that gay and bisexual men in Uganda are willing to identify themselves and participate in research and prevention campaigns,” write the authors, further showing that 61 percent and 39 percent reported themselves as gay and bisexuals respectively.
Similarly, the newly released Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), MSM –LGBTI HIV/AIDS Report 2008 calls for the inclusion of gay people in the fight against HIV and Aids.
“Having a programme for HIV prevention is a national priority in
They need the acknowledgement and support of the majority heterosexual Ugandan population and together HIV can be curbed.”
The report is punctuated by testimonies from gay people who have reportedly been mistreated each time they seek sexual health related services.
The current national HIV/Aids strategic plan shows no programmes that specifically target men who have sex with fellow men (MSM). Efforts to get a comment from the Uganda Aids Commission, which co-ordinates the HIV/Aids response in the country, were futile.
However, Dr Elioda Tumwesigye, the chairman of Parliament’s HIV/Aids committee, said although involving MSM in the fight against HIV is essential, it is not something that can be done easily. “Given that anal sex that those people perform is one of the most effective ways of transmitting HIV, there should be cause for concern,” he said.
“Unfortunately, under the current legal framework they can’t be helped as a group. However, they can make use of the available programmes as individuals.”
According to Dr Tumwesigye, until gay activities are decriminalised, it may not be easy even for organisations that are willing to help to involve this minority community in the fight against HIV.
Anti-gay activist Martin Ssempa said
“These people are just looking at ways of legitimising their practice, which is illegal and deviant in our society,” said Pastor Ssempa. “Our previous experience showed us that bringing homosexuals into campaigns against HIV only gives them a chance to propagate their illegal and unnatural acts.”
Makerere University School of Public Health Dean David Serwadda said the fight against HIV requires the participation of all in the community.
Again we try to get into HIV Prevention. I love the quote from Ssempa. Truly, absolutely, fantastic! Imagine, we deserve to get HIV because bringing us into an HIV programme only gives us a chance to propagate our illegal and unnatural acts!