The folly of ignoring the gay community in HIV prevention programs 1

I have, others have, we have said it before. There are myriad men married towomen, dating women, professing undying lover for women who are also sleepingwith fellow men and sometimes professing undying love for them. 

Don’t worry … this is not going to be a wholesale outing of the men Iknow, others know, we know of who are living double lives – having sex with menand then returning to their wives and/or girlfriends to live a straight, respectable,life with their 2.4 children.

For the record, let us make a list: musicians, doctors, lawyers, carmechanics, consultants, politicians, entrepreneurs, white collar corporateexecutives, taxi drivers, university students, cooks/chefs, waiters, televisionpersonnel, newspaper editors, military personnel, diplomats, prostitutes and so on and so forth. You can make the list as long or as extensive as you wish. There are gaymen in every one of the categories you list, many of them on the down low,meaning that they publicly put up a front as heterosexuals while secretly sleepingwith men.

All this should not be a surprise to anyone who bothers to pay attention tolife around them. What should be a source of extreme worry is that yourhusband, brother, friend, neighbor, might be secretly bisexual, or a gay manwho sleeps with your sister, wife, girlfriend. Why should that worry you? Forthe simple reason that if/when anyone has bisexual proclivities, it immediatelymultiplies the number of sexual partners one has and, therefore, the number ofpeople at risk from sexually transmitted diseases. Worse, if one of thepartners belongs to a vulnerable but ignored group, there is an increasedlikelihood that the partner might not even know about any transmittablediseases they might be carrying due to social lack of care or attention. The implicationsfor the spread of chronic diseases like HIV are extremely grave under such ascenario.

Yet, that is exactly the case with gay community in most countries insub-Saharan Africa, such as Uganda. In Uganda, gay men are totally excluded from HIV/Aids initiatives tothe extent that politicians have openly proclaimed that gays deserve no rightswhatsoever.

Now, just think what it means when people from this group that ‘doesn’t deserveany rights’ happen to be HIV positive. They will have no access to medical carebecause they “don’t deserve it” but of course that will not stop themfrom having sex with other men and/or women who want to have sex with them because it hasnever stopped them. That means that someone’s husband, fiancee is sleeping withgay or bisexual men who fall in that category that doesn’t deserve any rights.

How can these African governments fail to see the implications of ignoringthe gay community in the fight against HIV/Aids and other sexually transmitteddiseases? How can they be so blind as to the implications for the spread ofsuch diseases in the straight community? How can it make sense to exclude anentire section of a sexually active segment of the population in the fightagainst diseases that are chronic, life threatening, preventable and, now,treatable?

The mind boggles.

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  1. Pingback: HIV/Aids is already killing LGBTI Ugandans! « sebaspace

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