This week, Uganda is hosting the 2008 International HIV/AIDS Implementers Conference.
On Monday 2nd June, the Director General of Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC) stated that gay people in Uganda are one of the drivers of the HIV epidemic in the country. But in spite of that, there are no resources to fund an HIV prevention programme amongst them.
On Wednesday 3rd June, during the plenum of the Conference, a group of gay and lesbian Ugandans made a brief protest, handing out a press release and with placards highlighting the issue of HIV care and prevention amongst the gay community in Uganda. 3 of them were arrested and are currently in prison.
Some of those attending the conference have expressed their outrage, and there are private and diplomatic appeals going on to secure the release of the three.
I am requesting, in the name of the LGBTI Community in Uganda, to add your voice to this.
The immediate aim is the release of the who are currently in prison. They are being denied access to visitors and even their lawyer has not been able to see them. It is important that they are released before the end of the Conference this Friday.
What you can do.
- Letters of protest, concern from civil society groups, especially dealing with HIV and AIDS and positive people. Target the Uganda AIDS Commission, Ugandan Embassies abroad, the Presidents Office in Uganda, the Ministry of Health in Uganda.
- The official sponsor of the conference is the US government, so concern from that quarter will not go unnoticed.
- The British and Dutch Missions have authorities from their governments to deal with issues of LGBTI discrimination and abuse.
- Representatives from most countries in the world are here. 1700 to be exact, from all major HIV related organizations. If you have a member of your organization present, please contact them and urge them to help do something about this concrete example of an obstacle to HIV prevention and care, before the conference ends. Stir them up please. Let not the conference end before the 3 are released.
In the long term, please express your concern that 26 years since the HIV epidemic started, Uganda, a stellar example of HIV progress in Africa, can actually state that it has no money to prevent HIV amongst this very vulnerable part of its citizenry.
The government of Uganda, the Uganda Ministry of Health, the Uganda AIDS Commission all have a duty to this part of their population, and in the interest of HIV Prevention and care for the whole world.