AMSHeR Commemorates World AIDS Day

Cape Town – African Men for Sexual Health and Rights [AMSHeR] joins the international community in celebrating World Aids Day.

According to this year’s Global Report from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), significant progress has been made in gaining control of the epidemic. The number of new HIV infections has decreased by 33% since 2001. Similarly, fewer people have died from AIDS-related complications with reports showing a 29 per cent drop since 2005. Access to antiretroviral therapy has increased 40-fold from 2002 to 2012.

Although the incidence of HIV infection is declining in most regions of the world, epidemics in men who have sex with men (MSM) continue to expand in most low, middle, and high-income countries in 2013 with the rates of new infection being consistently high among young MSM. Globally, men who have sex with men are estimated to be 19 times more likely to be infected by HIV than the general population in countries where data is available.

“These facts demonstrate indisputably that MSM continue to carry a disproportionate burden of HIV. Many community-based organizations have led the way in developing effective and innovative programmes targeting MSM in Africa and have been on the frontline providing HIV prevention, care and support services to their peers. This leadership needs to be acknowledged and strengthened. We need more resources channeled to them to ensure that we get to zero new infections among MSM”, says Joel Nana, AMSHeR Executive Director.

While HIV programmes targeting MSM are largely under-resourced with reduced impact, structural barriers have been a major challenge to the response. MSM have limited access to services because of the stigma and discrimination they experience in health settings. Kene C. Esom, AMSHeR’s Director of Programmes reminds, “Till date, 36 countries in Africa still criminalize consensual sexual practices between adults of the same sex, which is unacceptable. Even in countries where same-sex sexual acts between consenting adults are not criminalized, states fail to effectively protect LGBTI individuals from human rights violations and abuses. The negative consequences of punitive laws and human rights violations on HIV service uptake have been largely demonstrated. This is why we are advocating for HIV programmes that are inclusive of the human rights of MSM and other key populations and contribute as much as possible to creating an enabling legal and social environment.”

For further information contact the African Men for Sexual Health and Rights:
Tendai Terrence – Communications Officer
+277 11 482 9201 or tendai@amsher.net