by Rex Wockner
A group of GLBT people from 25 African countries has demanded an urgent response to the HIV pandemic affecting their communities.
The call came at a “pre-conference” held in Dakar, Senegal, Dec. 5 before the start of the International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa.
Men who have sex with men in Africa are about nine times more likely to be HIV-positive than heterosexuals.
“The deliberate refusal to address the needs of men who have sex with men in Africa or anywhere in the world will never help us end the spread of AIDS,” said Paula Ettelbrick, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, which organized the pre-conference, “The refusal to treat the health needs of this population blatantly defies the human rights obligations incumbent on states.”
Only seven African countries have included MSM in their national plans for AIDS prevention, while more than two-thirds of African nations still criminalize gay sex.
Organizations that signed the demand included IGLHRC, Behind the Mask (South Africa), the Coalition of African Lesbians (South Africa), Alternatives-Cameroun, the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya, the AIDS Project Of The East Bay (Oakland, Calif.), the Center for the Right to Health (Nigeria), Sexual Minorities Uganda, Arc-en-Ciel Plus (Cote d’Ivoire), the African HIV Policy Network (United Kingdom), OUT-Well Being (South Africa) and Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana.