India Balks As WHO Focuses On Homosexuality In New AIDS Guidelines

Published: July 5, 2011

While the World Health Organization (WHO) has taken AIDS treatment guidelines to a new level focusing on homo and transsexuality which many feel is way overdue, this week India Prime Minister of Health, Ghulam Nabi Azad announced his idea that sex between two men is "completely unnatural" and cultural parameters keep India’s gay population in the shadows.

Homosexual activity is illegal in no fewer than 75 countries, most of them in Africa, and some also do not legally recognize transsexuals, the global health agency said.

Announced in Geneva, Switzerland, the published WHO new global guidelines for expanding AIDS treatment are now public and they focus for the first time on homosexuals and the controversial acts of transsexuals internationally. India is pushing back.

Azad stated this week:

"Unfortunately, there is this disease in the world and in this country where men are having sex with other men, which is completely unnatural and shouldn’t happen, but it does. In our country the numbers of men having sex with men are substantial, but it is very difficult to find them."

About 2.5 million people in India are infected with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. The disease is predominantly spread here by unprotected heterosexual sex, according to international health groups.

Given the sobering statistics, the WHO said it was launching new guidelines, aimed at the specific health needs of homosexuals because in some countries and regions, up to 40% of homosexuals are estimated to be HIV positive.

Gottfried Hirnschall, WHO director of the HIV/AIDS department explains in further detail:

"If we do not pay major attention to the epidemic in key populations, we will not be able to eliminate HIV. Having sexual relations with other men as well as transsexuals represent those who were disproportionately affected by the epidemic of HIV about 30 years ago and it continues to be so. The dramatic fact is that MSM (men having sex with men) are estimated to be 20 times more likely to be HIV infected than the general population. We cannot imagine fully reversing the global spread of HIV without addressing the specific HIV needs of these key populations. We are issuing these guidelines to help countries and communities scale-up the services needed to reduce new infections and save lives."

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