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Gay men 28 times more likely to get HIV UNAIDS calls on Caribbean countries to remove discriminatory laws

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Gay men 28 times more likely to get HIV UNAIDS calls on Caribbean countries to remove discriminatory laws

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — UNAIDS yesterday called on Caribbean countries and others to remove discriminatory laws against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. In a statement, coinciding with the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT), UNAIDS said stigma towards key populations — gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people, people who inject drugs and prisoners and other incarcerated people — is reinforced by criminal laws.

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It said these in turn fuel violence, exploitation and a climate of fear, hindering efforts to make HIV services available to the people who need them.

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“We all have a moral and legal obligation to remove discriminatory laws and enact laws that protect people from discrimination,” said Gunilla Carlsson, acting UNAIDS executive director.

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“To end the AIDS epidemic, people need to be protected from harm. We need justice and equality for all.”

UNAIDS said that more than 65 countries criminalise same-sex sexual relations, including at least eight that impose the death penalty

It said globally, gay men and other men who have sex with men are around 28 times more likely to acquire HIV than the general population, and are much less likely to access HIV services. In 2017, gay men and other men who have sex with men accounted for 18 per cent of new HIV infections worldwide

“It is critically important that we create a world where all people can access the health and social services they need — without the threat of violence and discrimination. Universal health coverage means reaching all people — sexual and gender minorities have the same right to health as everyone else,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO)

Transgender people, who account for an estimated 0.1—1.1 per cent of the global population, often face stigma, discrimination and social rejection in their homes and communities. Discrimination, violence and criminalisation prevent transgender people from accessing the HIV services they need to stay healthy

It is estimated that transgender women are 13 times more likely to acquire HIV than other adults of reproductive age, and that 16.5 per cent of transgender women are living with HIV

Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, Achim Steiner, said “justice and protection for all are central to driving progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals

“Enacting and enforcing non-discriminatory laws and policies, repealing punitive laws, and ensuring access to justice for all are critical to delivering on the commitment to leave no one behind,” said Steiner

UNAIDS said it was joining with the United Nations secretary general and the United Nations high commissioner for human rights in calling for the decriminalisation of LGBTI people, and for LGBTI people to be protected from violence and discrimination and to have full access to health and other social services

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