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Trends & Times

The Criminalization Of Same-Sex Activity Increases HIV Stigma; Decreases Research, Says IU Professor

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“Many of the world’s AID researchers gathered in Melbourne, Australia, for their twentieth annual symposium. The event was overshadowed this year by the deaths of a number attendees who were aboard the Malaysian airlines flight that was shot down over Ukraine. Another topic on the agenda was human rights. Due to the growing number of countries, especially in Africa, that have passed laws criminalizing homosexuality. Dr. Rachel Vreeman spends a good deal of her time providing care and conducting research on HIV and AIDS in Kenya. She told me these laws just make it more difficult to help people who need it,” says host Barbara Lewis. 

Vreeman: In a lot of parts of the world, the majority of people who are infected with HIV are not actually men who have sex with men, but are in fact, actually people who are in heterosexual relationships. These types of laws make it more difficult for everyone. It just increases the stigma that goes along with HIV. It increases the stigma that goes along with the idea of having a same-sex partner. It might make people more reluctant to get tested for HIV. They might be more reluctant to seek treatment for HIV. It makes it a lot harder for research institutions, for places who are trying to provide HIV care to really understand what’s happening with the epidemic. In fact, places are often feeling like they shouldn’t do surveys that might report on people who are having same-sex activity because they worry that there might be very bad repercussions from these data for the people who are involved. 

For more about Africa’s anti-gay laws, visit: http://allafrica.com/stories/201402281416.html?viewall=1