Reversing the HIV/STIs scourge: the Sexual minority and gender face of HIV-STIs

Published: December 21, 2011

30 years down the road Uganda is still battling with HIV. Over 300,000 are on ART a service started 10 years ago (1990). Between 35%-40% of adult Ugandans have accessed HIV testing and known their status. Reasons of access, provision, demand, fear of visibility and lack of anxiety still make sexual minorities low level up-takers of HIV testing. Uganda has a very high fertility/pregnancy rate yielding between 1.3-1.5 million pregnancies and HIV prevalence in pregnancy is at 6.5%. We get 90,000 HIV pregnant women and 25,000 infected babies annually. This is added to the 100,000 infections picked from sexual transmission. With that background this makes 1.2million Ugandans exposed to and living with HIV. The majority are women and 10% are children below 15 years of age. It is estimated that 700, 000 Ugandans will acquire HIV.

Evidence from organisations gathered between 2004-2011 from that have worked with MSM, LGBTIQQ and same sex/gender practicing persons have contributed to understanding the structural settings in which the sub-populations exist either as relationship or as bonding enablers: education facilities, in-mate settings, boarding settings, sex-work settings, community meeting spaces, social spaces ( internet, list-serves, reserved lists, face-book and social networks), phone contacts, organisational resource centers/drop-in facilities to name but a few. 4 organisations providing targeted services in form; network/organisation development or building; “wellness information”; psycho-social/health services and; legal services have reached different numbers. Barring re-attendances and extrapolation, SMUG puts the population at between 500,000-1,000,000 (reports). MARPS IN UGANDA has attempted to reach 7,000 MSM and this number constitutes its data base. Other organisations have captured more numbers and together have contributed evidence that sexual minorities are deserving beneficiaries and it is an un-conscionable social contract that excludes them. Early decision to report for HIV testing was basis for identifying 52 HIV+ve MSM and enabled them to be attached to ART service points. This early attachment to an HIV care and management point will go a long way to enable them prolong their life and reduce the viral load in their bodies. More numbers can be reached by more organisations and this will increase on the numbers of those who deserve but are still out there in denial. Strategies that prevent HIV/STIs getting through the vagina, rectum (anal mucosa) and broken skin (e.g., oral mucosa) can be adopted as risk reduction practices targeting sexual minorities.

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