terça-feira, 29 de março de 2016

Mozambique's enduring discrimation leaves gay men untreated for HIV

Despite a veneer of progressive policymaking, bias against the rising number of men with HIV remains commonplace in Mozambique, deterring many from seeking treatment

In June, Mozambique dropped a colonial-era law criminalising homosexual activities. The change passed relatively quietly in the southern African country. After all, no one had ever been convicted.
A few weeks later, Tony Andrea felt like he was coming down with malaria. The 22-year-old went to a government health clinic. Andrea is gay and, despite the recently overturned prohibition, had always felt safe being open about his sexuality. He certainly never suspected it might interfere with his ability to access malaria treatment.
When he arrived at the clinic, “the nurse told me, ‘People like you, you lie a lot … You don’t have malaria,’” he says.
Andrea said he was not sure why she suspected he was gay, but he put it down to his dress or speech. He demanded treatment, but the incident left him shaken. “They are not at all prepared to take care of the LGBT community,” he said of public health workers.
Aside from being demoralising, discrimination against men who have sex with men is jeopardising government efforts to reduce the high incidence of HIV and Aids.
At 11.5%, Mozambique has one of the 10 highest HIV rates in the world. But in Maputo, the capital, among men who have sex with men and are aged 25 years and older, that rate nearly triples to 33.8%. Without access to hospital testing and treatment services, the number will continue to rise. Some of those men also have sex with women, so the virus will spread more widely among the population.
The ministry of health launched a three-year accelerated HIV response plan in 2013 and acknowledged that men who have sex with men are among the social groups that could “perpetuate the HIV epidemic if services are not provided for these hard-to-reach populations”.
Roberto Paulo is a programme officer for Lambda, the country’s only lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activist organisation, which offers a haven for those who have faced harassment at health centres. Paulo says transgender people have been refused services until they went home to change their clothes, while gay men have been denied treatment for anal sexually transmitted infections. More...

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