Buggery laws choking HIV control

Published: November 21, 2011

NASSAU, The Bahamas — Michel de Groulard, regional programme adviser of UNAIDS Caribbean Regional Support Team said that data has shown a significantly lower HIV prevalence rate among gay men in Caribbean countries without buggery laws.

According to de Groulard, the HIV prevalence rate among men who have sex with men (MSM) in three Caribbean countries without buggery laws namely Bahamas, Haiti and Suriname was less than 10 per cent in all cases.

This he said is in comparison to Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana where the prevalence rate is more than 20 per cent for these countries with buggery laws.

Pointing to The Bahamas which repealed its buggery laws inn 1991, de Groulard said that the prevalence rate now stands at 8 per cent among gay men. This is despite Bahamas having the highest prevalence rate in the Caribbean.

However in Jamaica, where the buggery laws remain firmly on the books, de Groulard said that the prevalence rate among gay men is a whopping 32 per cent.

"We see correlation for countries which have decriminalised because when you compare them to those who continue to criminalise there is a significant difference," Groulard told the Observer.

He was however unable to say how, if any, decriminalising of homosexuality has impacted the incidents of HIV in countries like The Bahamas, since there are no available data.

Groulard said that while it is easy to determine what per centage of a population is infected, it is more challenging to determine when they were infected, thus determining if this would have been before or after buggeery laws are repealed.

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