Laws and policies on sexuality and sexual reproductive health for the MSM community in Nigeria, and how they impact on the fight against HIV/AIDS

Published: July 22, 2010

Laws and policies on sexuality and sexual reproductive health for the MSM community in Nigeria, and how they impact on the fight against HIV/AIDS

E. Okwuegbunam

Heartland Alliance Nigeria, Outreach Cordination/ Advocay & Policy, Abuja, Nigeria

Issues: The late awakening to the reality by the National agency for the control of Aids NACA on the neccessity of including the MSM community in Nigeria as a MARP in its national strategic frame work,and also at the state and local levels.
A) The lack of supporting polices to minimize discrimination of MSM thus Encouraging:

    * Limited universal access to services i.e. Basic Information, HCT, ART, STI management and palliative care.
    * Institutionalized stigma and discrimination of MSM / MLWHA+ if sexuality is known.

Description: Through implementing partners like Alliance rights Nigeria, andThe independent project, specific projects have programs targeted at MSM such as Heartland Alliance, Population Council, Family Health International and Institute for human virology Nigeria, Hence the existence of a lot of overlapping interventions. Though there has been some involvement by NACA, this has not been significant for a population that has a prevalence that triples that of the national prevalence (12.6% against 4.4%) due to the existing criminalization of MSM. On a public health perspective, NACA in November 2009 included MSM participation in the development of the National strategic framework and review of the HIV/AIDS policy 2010-2015.
Lessons learned: The exclusion of one population in the fight against HIV/AIDS automatically ensures incomplete results in the overall effort. The inclusion of MSM in the NSF and other state and local level strategies will create an enabling environment that will foster sustained results in the community and across other populations.
Next steps: Government policies that include MSM for a wholesome intervention. Empower MLWHA+ by meaningfully involving them in designing, planning and implementation of programs. Increase advocacy to the national assembly on the need to expunge laws criminalizing homosexuality.

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