Independent European Daily Express
Original Article: bit.ly/16wOXWy
Despite a mandate to eradicate HIV/AIDS under the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Zimbabwe has done little or nothing to reduce the rate of infection among vulnerable gays and lesbians, say activists here.
The MDGs are eight goals agreed to by all U.N. member states and all leading international development institutions to be achieved by the target date of 2015. These goals range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education.
Gays and lesbians activists here say more needs to be done because population groups such as men who have sex with men and transgender people remain at the periphery of the countryâ€™s intervention strategies.
â€œIn as far as combatting HIV/AIDS is concerned, there are no national programmes targeted for minority groups or interventions that can easily be accessible by the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) community on prevention and care within the public healthcare system,â€Samuel Matsikure, Programme Manager of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), told IPS.
â€œThere are knowledge gaps of healthcare workers on the needs and best methods on prevention, treatment and care for the HIV-positive LGBTI individuals,â€ adds Matsikure.
GALZ is a voluntary association founded in 1990 to serve the needs and interests of LGBTI persons in Zimbabwe, pushing for social tolerance of sexual minorities.
But 24 years after GALZ was founded, Zimbabwe’s Sexual Offences Act still criminalises homosexuality. According to Section 4.78 of Zimbabweâ€™s new constitution, persons of the same sex are prohibited from consensual sex or marrying each other.
Civil society activists say the Zimbabwean government has to accept the reality that gays and lesbians exist.
â€œWhether the Zimbabwean government likes it or not, it has to face the reality that gays and lesbians exist and should therefore cater for their HIV/AIDS needs in emerging with strategies to combat HIV/AIDS just like it does for all other citizens, for how do we end the scourge if we ignore another group of people who will certainly spread the disease,â€ Trust Mhindo, a civil society activist, told IPS.
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