Indonesia, Nigeria hinder the fight against AIDS

The HIV retrovirus.
The HIV retrovirus.

Anti-LGBT repression in Indonesia and Nigeria is impeding the battle against HIV/AIDS. Meanwhile, in Kenya, Lebanon and Malawi, HIV researchers are seeking new insights into the epidemic and how to combat it.

This article is largely based on UNAIDS’s Equal Eyes recap of the world’s LGBTI news.

In Indonesia, a crackdown on gay and transgender individuals has forced some NGOs to shut down HIV awareness campaigns and mobile testing clinics in fear that the groups will be targeted by officials.

Police trooped many of the 42 arrestees into the Ebute-Metta Magistrate Court. (Photo courtesy of NoStringsNG.com)
Nigeria police trooped many of the 42 arrestees into the Ebute-Metta Magistrate Court. (Photo courtesy of NoStringsNG.com)

In Nigeria, as previously reported by this blog, a police raid of a private party led to the arrest of 70 men for allegedly engaging in homosexual acts. Sources from the event claim the party was being held to promote HIV counseling and testing. Of the arrestees, 28 were quickly released, leaving 42 in longer-term detention.

In Kenya, a new study raised ethical questions while evaluating the willingness of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men in Kenya to participate in HIV prevention research. “Willingness to participate in HIV vaccine efficacy trials was highly motivated by various forms of altruism,” the study concluded.

In Lebanon, a new Lebanon study evaluated the spread of HIV among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSMs) in Beirut. The researchers stated, “We need to think about explicit descriptions such as ‘condomless sex’ rather than simply referring to ‘unprotected sex.’ ”

A study from Malawi found that gay, bisexual, and other MSMs who live in rural areas are more likely to be HIV- positive than those who live in large cities. The problem is great in Lilongwe, the capital, with HIV prevalence of 17.7 percent among MSMs, and in Blantyre, the second-largest city, with 12.5 percent respectively. But even greater problems were found in the in the rural and agricultural areas of Mulanje and Chikwawa (20.5 percent), and in the tourist and lake areas of Mangochi (22.4 percent) and Nkhata Bay (20.6 percent).

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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