AT least 50% of the country’s gay and lesbian community is HIV positive, a recent study conducted by the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) has revealed.
The results of the study confirm that this situation, if ignored, could erode the government’s achievements in HIV management over the past one and a half decades.
“In a study carried out by GALZ in partnership with local partners and SADC member states, Zimbabwean Men Who have Sex with Men (MSM) in five sites (383) had 23.5% HIV prevalence and Woman who have Sex with Women (WSW) (179) 32.6%,” read part of the report which was partly presented by the organisation at a media training workshop held in Harare last week.
As of last year, GALZ had a known number of 2273 (MSM) and 380 (WSW) throughout the country.
GALZ officials who presented the results of the research however requested not to be mentioned for fear of victimisation by the country’s state security agents who use the country’s laws which criminalise homosexuality.
Last Month, the National AIDS Council announced that it was going to work with sex workers, gays and lesbians in HIV and AIDS national programmes because ignoring them would be a great disservice to the nation.
Health and child care minister David Parirenyatwa also recently hinted that government was in the process of involving key populations including gays and prisoners in national AIDS programming after realizing that these groups were crucial in the fight against the pandemic.
GALZ leaders, in their presentation, said fear to openly talk about homosexuality coupled with “double stigma orientation and status” were prolonging untreated sexually transmitted Infections among its members.