Namibia: Being a Sexual Minority in the Time of HIV-Aids

Published: March 15, 2013

WITH an 18,8% estimated HIV-AIDS prevalence rate for the country, The Weekender asked few individuals from the gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans-gender and intersex (LGBTI) communities what they, in particular are doing to fight the pandemic.

"HIV is a great concern and should be regarded as a top priority whether you are heterosexual or belong to LGBTI community. We do not take this lightly and treat this as a matter of importance, as this is about the wellbeing of our people. That is why no matter how small our own campaigns, we as organisations try to encourage correct and consistent condom use, faithfulness and adherence to treatment at ground and community level" said Deyonce /Naris, a former radio presenter who is a Khaibasen community project co-founder.

"LGBTI people face stigma and discrimination (for their sexual orientation) and if one gets infected, the stigma becomes even more," said Deyonce.

These two issues (stigma and discrimination) need to be dealt with, believe both Deyonce and Ricardo Amunjera, Mr Gay Namibia.

Negative attitudes and comments by health officials discourage LGBTI people from visiting health facilities at times for tests or STI screenings, says Lady B (not real name), a gay man diagnosed with HIV years ago. These sentiments are echoed by Amunjera.

There are few organisations that assist LGBTI positive people but mostly these operate in Windhoek and thus does not cover most of the other regions in the country.

A study on Men having sex with Men (MSM) by the Ministry of Health and Social Services is welcomed by sexual minorities as a means of progress towards touching on sensitive issues, which government has previously shied away from.

"Although this study excludes a larger part of LGBTI community, it is considered that MSM are at [higher] risk of contracting HIV," Ricardo said.

Amunjera said that HIV is a universal concern and has never discriminated against the LGBTI community who have always been under a microscope for their sexual preferences in society.

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