This post is one of a series of previews of what people at this July’s International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., will hear from activists from the 76 countries where homosexuality is illegal. Dozens of activist witnesses will attend the conference under the sponsorship of the Spirit of 76 Worldwide project to tell about how AIDS services are denied to people who are unjustly categorized as criminals.
Below is an edited excerpt from successful Spirit of 76 applications submitted from Kenya. At this point, the activist visitors’ names are being withheld to shield them from harassment or worse in their homophobic home countries.
AIDS among LGBT in Kenya: Situation ‘very grave’
HIV/AIDS has had a disastrous effect on our society. Families have perished and others left broken.
LGBT people find it hard, almost impossible to access medical services. No specific interventions are under way to combat HIV/AIDS among the LGBT. The situation is very grave. No one seems to care about preserving the lives of LGBT people in Kenya.
The infection rate among LGBT people in Kenya is worsening. This is due to the fact that they are excluded from the mainstream measures of containing the epidemic.
The existing laws branding the LGBT as a criminal group have kept members of the LGBT in the dark and the homophobia meted out on them have made it further impossible for them to be open about their sexuality or even seek medical care.
Recent studies from different parts of the country cite HIV prevalence ranging from 12% to 47% among different gay groups of men who have sex with men (MSM). Over 60% of MSM in Kenya maintain sexual liaisons with female partners.
The estimated overall HIV infection rate in Kenya is 6.3 percent, according to the United Nations AIDS Report of 2010. Among men who have sex with men in Kenya, the rate is estimated to be much higher:
- 15.2 percent, according to a 2010 report by Dr. Chris Beyrer of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and others;
- 43 percent, according to a 2008 report by the Foundation for AIDS Research;
- 24.5 percent in Mombasa and 10.6 percent in Nairobi, according to a 2009 study published in The Lancet.
Under Kenyan law, male homosexual activity is punishable by up to seven years in prison.
- LGBT people in Ethiopia: ‘stigma, mob violence, arrest’ (76crimes.com)
- Money fights AIDS where homosexuality is illegal (76crimes.com)
- How not to fight AIDS – beat up gays (76crimes.com)