Malawi sentence will set back AIDS response, says Global Fund

Lusaka- Zambia (PANA) -- The conviction and sentencing of two men in Malawi based on their sexual orientation presents a serious threat to the country’s AIDS response, the Global Fund warned Friday.
Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were this week sentenced to 14 years in prison with hard labour for "indecent practices between males" and "unnatural offences.
" “The criminalization of individuals based on their sexual orientation is not just a human rights issue - it also undermines investment in HIV and AIDS as it drives sexual behaviour underground and creates an environment where HIV can more easily spread,” Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund, said in a statement.
He said: “This ultimately affects the broader population, in addition to the devastating impact it has on communities of men who have sex with men.
” In southern Africa, more than 50 per cent of men who have sex with men also have sex with women.
The Global Fund said recent study shows high levels of bisexual behavior in Malawi.
The fund noted that successful AIDS responses rely on strong communities, comprehensive HIV treatment, prevention and care services and protective legal environments, adding that for optimal impact from HIV investment, countries need to prioritize the review of laws that criminalize groups most at risk.

21 may 2010 14:36:00

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