Activists in Uganda report that plain-clothes police raided a U.S. military-affiliated AIDS services clinic in Kampala today, accused it of promoting homosexuality, and ordered it to close.
[A spokesperson for the clinic said the program decided to temporarily suspend operations to ensure the safety of its staff. -- Editor]
The clinic has been one of relatively few health-care facilities in the city that willingly treat LGBT people. It is run by the Makerere University Walter Reed Project (MUWRP), a non-profit partnership between Makerere University and the U.S. Military HIV Research Program (MHRP).
Dozens of HIV-positive people relied on that clinic for ARV treatments.
The raid came three days after President Yoweri Museveni joined the throngs at a Parade and Thanksgiving Celebration over the country’s harsh new Anti-Homosexuality Act, which provides for seven years in prison for anyone who “aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage in acts of homosexuality.”
When police raided the clinic, LGBT patients fled by running out a back door, while police took photos of those that they saw there, one activist said.
“This is really a big blow for some of us who have been networking with the health center in giving referrals to our members suffering from various diseases,” another activist said about the closing of the clinic.
Grassroots anti-AIDS activists said they are confused about what to do without the clinic. “We really do not know where we are heading,” one activist said.
The antiretroviral therapy clinic at MUWRP has been fundamental in supporting HIV-positive people by providing them with treatment and support, he said. It has also supplied LGBT community members with health consumables such as lubricants and condoms in order to encourage safer-sex practices to avoid HIV/AIDS and other STD infections and re-infections, he said.
The U.S. Military HIV Research Program has been conducting HIV research in Uganda since 1998. It expanded its service in 2005 to include prevention, care and treatment activities under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The program also has health-care projects in Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria.
Activists warned LGBT patients of the clinic to stay away from that location until further notice, for their own safety.
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