Monday, December 8, 2008

LGBT Africans demand action on AIDS pandemic ahead of international conference

[originally posted December 5, 2008]

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people from more than 25 African countries have demanded an urgent response to the HIV pandemic affecting their communities.

They met at a special conference in Dhaka ahead of the International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA).

According to the ICASA organisers, for more than two decades, the African continent has participated in the fight against AIDS and provided potential solutions to the numerous challenges posed by this epidemic.

The conference "brings together international and African experts to evaluate the current state of the HIV and STI epidemics with regard to science, communities, and leadership."

Senegal, where the conference is being held, the prevalence of HIV infection among men who have sex with men is 21% versus less than 1% for the total population.

"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 (IGLHRC), the organisers of the pre-conference.

"The refusal to treat the health needs of this population blatantly defies the human rights obligations incumbent on states."

Men who have sex with men in Africa are nine times more likely to be HIV positive than their heterosexual counterparts.

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