Very, very strange.
Reason to be optimistic?
Maybe. Depends on who was the insitigator of the one and the other. Do we have friends in strange places? Of course the other editorial was unbelievably callous. And despite the political interference, I have always had some respect for the New Vision.
Monday, 9th June, 2008
The director general of the Uganda AIDS Commission, Dr. Kihumuro Apuuli, has observed that the gay community in the country should not be neglected while designing anti-HIV/ AIDS strategies. Kihumuro’s advice should be taken seriously.
Uganda’s success in the fight against HIV/AIDS is attributed to its openness and practical approach. Although homosexuality is a crime in Uganda which attracts a stiff prison sentence, that should not be the focus of the struggle against HIV/AIDS infection. In any case, research evidence shows that gay people are not the major drivers of infection in Uganda. But even if they were, it is wrong and self-defeating to focus on mode of infection rather than prevention. Because of the prejudice attached to homosexuality, there is a tendency to treat HIV/AIDS as a moral issue when it is essentially a public health matter.
No matter how people get infected, they have a right to treatment. The gay rights demonstrators last week were not right to gatecrash an HIV/AIDS meeting but it is equally wrong to dismiss some of their complaints as inconsequential.
Gay people need as much protection as anybody else for the simple reason that ignoring any minority group undermines the fight against HIV/AIDS. HIV does not discriminate according to the mode of infection and will continue circulating in any sexually active society if not reined in.
To date, our HIV prevention strategies have worked to bring down infection rates to about 6% but it has stagnated there, implying that new strategies are needed to reduce it further.
So far, the ABC strategy has targeted unmarried people and heterosexuals but minority groups such as gay and commercial sex workers are left out.
Strategies to address such minorities’ needs should be explored because they are part and parcel of our society and cannot be wished away. As the Rev. Can. Gideon Byamugisha correctly puts it, we cannot put conditions on who will survive and who will die. The principal agenda must be saving lives.