All Countries Need to Promote the Rights to Health for Sexual Minorities

29 Dec, 2018
Sexual minorities, which includes lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender (LGBT) people, face high HIV prevalence rates. However, most of them lack basic human rights protections and find it hard in accessing HIV services that would assist in reducing the HIV infections and ensuring that people living with HIV and members of vulnerable groups fully enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The act of criminalizing same-sex activities and also the society’s disapproval has fostered disclosure and minimal public interest towards the health of LGBT people. This has led to paucity of information on health risks that LGBT people are exposed to by their lifestyles, the prevention, and health care strategies.

Discrimination and Stigmatization in Health Care

The discrimination and stigmatization at the health facilities, lack of client confidentiality and acceptance of the sexual minorities by health care workers deny them the right to attaining the required health standard as a basic human right.

There is an urgent need to counter this situation by coming up with policies that will cater for the LGBT. While some countries allow same-sex activities others have put in place laws that criminalize these activities. Among these countries are African nations, Kenya being one of them.

Here is a recent news story report from East Africa, Kenya on HIV infections.

Over 4,000 gays infected with HIV in Kilifi County

The spread of HIV & AIDS among gay couples and teenagers in Kilifi County has hit alarming rates that have shocked health officials.

Kilifi County Executive Committee (CEC) member for health Anisa Omar said that one in four gays is infected with HIV and the numbers continue to rise despite measures to curb new infections.

She added that currently there are 12,000 gays in Malindi town alone with 4,000 of them being infected with HIV and AIDS.

Nineteen percent of new HIV infections were recorded among teenagers between the age of 16 and 25 years.

Dr. Omar added that they are distributing lubricants and condoms to the residents as a preventive measure.

“We are issuing them with lubricants and condoms but most of them due to influence on drugs they continue to have unprotected sex and for our teenagers they just engage in raw sex oblivious of the consequences,” she said.

The HIV prevalence rates in the County now stands at 4.2 percent translating to 4 people in 100 that are infected.

“Kilifi County has a population of 1.4 million people and we have already tested 500,000 and our target is to reach 90 percent of the population in the next three months,” she said.

She added that only 41,000 men got tested out of the 500,000 people.

Kilifi County HIV & AIDS coordinator Fauz Ibrahim said that the prevalence among gay couples stands at 18 per cent.

With this report in mind, law makers have to understand that a person’s sexuality does not make them any lesser human being. LGBT individuals, therefore, have rights entitled to them regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

LGBT people have a right to treatment despite the laws put in place and, hence, there is a need for the healthcare providers to provide health care services without stigmatization and discrimination.

Don is one of columnists |You can read his weekly column on GLXY.EU