Russia hampers AIDS battle, Ugandans fight on

In countries where anti-LGBT legislation has increased, activists and health workers report difficulties in providing HIV treatment and prevention services to key populations. In Russia, officials blacklisted the country’s leading HIV NGOs as ‘foreign agents’ engaged in political activity. That label prevents groups from receiving funds and could lead to organizations shutting down all activity.

That news item and the following ones in this recap were excerpted with slight modifications from two published round-ups of the world’s LGBTI-related news– the UNAIDS Equal Eyes and ILGA’s LGBulleTIn.

Logo of Spectrum Uganda
Logo of Spectrum Uganda

In Uganda, where health providers say restrictive legislation and homophobia have kept LGBTI people from seeking help, organizations are bringing HIV testing and counseling to the nation’s only gay-friendly bar. Spectrum Uganda and Icebreakers Uganda, in conjunction with Alive Medical Service,  provided health care, counseling and testing services to LGBTI people. For many men who have sex with men (MSM), Uganda’s HIV epidemic brings with it significant social burdens. A pervading social stigma and high levels of homophobic violence caused by enduring conservative attitudes, result in MSM feeling less inclined to access HIV services.

Erik Lamontagne (Photo courtesy of ResearchGate.net)
UNAIDS health economist Erik Lamontagne (Photo courtesy of ResearchGate.net)

UNAIDS health economist Erik Lamontagne calculated the cost of homophobia and found that discrimination against gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men could be costing Western Europe and North America over $49 billion, Asia and Pacific over $88 billion, and a worldwide cost of up to $119.1 billion GDP.

Tanzania is apparently modifying its announced ban on imports and sales of sexual lubricants. The prohibition was aimed at discouraging same-sex sexual activity. Soon after the announcement was made, health minister Ummy Mwalimu and deputy minister Dr. Hamisi Kigwangalla revised their position, limiting the prohibition, according to Broadly, the women’s interest channel of Vice Media. They said that lubricants will still be allowed in Tanzania as long as they are distributed by a hospital, but NGOs would be barred from handing them out.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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