Discrimination, neglect and HIV incidence — we’re reading why every day should be International Day Against Homophobia

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WWR520To the Most Vulnerable, The Least Reward: While the immense accomplishments of the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the governments that have worked with them have seen drops in HIV incidence as high as 73 percent in southern Africa, the benefits of these successes are not shared equally, this Op-ed by amfAR’s Owen Ryan notes. With research finding that gay men and transgender people continue to be infected at higher rates than others, research also has uncovered a reason: while among those most at risk because of discrimination and criminalization, they also have been among the most neglected by HIV-fighting programs. Ryan is one of the lead authors of a report called Achieving an AIDS-Free Generation for Gay Men and other MSM in Southern Africa that will be presented in Washington, DC today. It examines funding for HIV efforts in six southern African countries and shows that while laws in those countries continue to punish homosexual sex and undermine the effectiveness of HIV prevention efforts, PEPFAR and the Global Fund have allocated small fractions of their investments in programs addressing the needs of gay populations. It shouldn’t, and doesn’t have to be that way, Ryan says, pointing out that leaders and citizens in these countries have shown they are willing to stand up for human rights, and deserve support.

Speaking Out — A toolkit for MSM-led HIV and AIDS advocacy: Described as “an advocacy toolkit created to address the urgent need for men who have sex with men everywhere to engage in advocacy locally, nationally, and globally to end the HIV epidemic and promote their human rights,” this website offers heartening videos and stories of progress, as those most affected by both homophobia and HIV around the world lead the charge for equity, humanity and relevant health responses.

Islam, sexual diversity and access to health services: In this informative discussion paper, the Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health and the Institute of Development Studies examine the interaction of religion, sexuality and health in Southern and Southeast Asia where homosexual sex is criminalized, and where understanding Islamic teachings is important to achieving recognition of human rights and more effective HIV prevention. The paper emphasizes that Islamic scholars have shown a range of acceptance of sexual diversity, from orthodox opposition to progressive acceptance, and recommends working with and supporting faith leaders willing to promote human rights from a theological perspective. Authors of the paper plan to follow with examinations of the impact of Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism on acceptance of sexual diversity in the region.

Out of the Shadows: Ugandan physician Paul Semugoma told the world he is gay in a speech last year at the International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC. In this interview he talks about what it cost him to stay silent, and to come out — including that he no longer feels safe in his own country. He also talks about the state of the HIV epidemic in Uganda which has garnered headlines in recent years both for its attempts to pass harsher anti-gay laws than those already on its books, and for its failures in addressing its HIV epidemic that have lead to rising incidence.

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