Sexual minorities welcome HIV surveyBy: KUNENE CORRESPONDENT
HUMAN rights activists and defenders have welcomed the Ministry of Health’s comprehensive survey to get to the bottom of how some sexual groups are affected by the HIV-AIDS pandemic.
Last week the ministry’s deputy permanent secretary, Dr Norbert Forster, said at the 19th AIDS conference in Washington DC that his ministry was busy with a study to establish the particular behaviour of men who have sex with men.
By next year the government will have an indication of how HIV-AIDS pandemic affects gay men and sex workers.
The Namibian spoke to some of human rights defenders about the survey.
“Sexual minorities welcome the HIV survey among the most vulnerable groups when it comes to the HIV pandemic,” said Telwin Owoseb.
Owoseb urged the government to train health workers around issues of sexual orientation and sexual health as lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people sometimes feel they are not welcome at State health facilities.
“Unprotected sex, vulnerability, discrimination, lack of education on issues of social health and economic issues are the main cause of high HIV infections among minorities in Namibia,” said Owoseb.
Owoseb added that the Government must ensure that these minority groups are given access to health facilities, instead of being discriminated against.
Nicodemus ‘Mama Africa’ Aochumub said: “The survey is a good step towards taking the fight against HIV to next level and the ministry needs to have figures of how many are infected and affected by the pandemic”.
Aochumub added that the Government should realise that fighting the AIDS pandemic by excluding sexual minorities will never work, and congratulated the Government for waking up to the reality.
Aochumub urged State-funded media to open up to sexual minority groups and give them a platform to speak openly about the pandemic.
Both Aochumub and Owoseb pleaded with the State-funded media to be careful in their reporting about issues concerning sexual minorities, as negative reporting about already marginalised groups can fuel violence.