Obsolete anti-gay laws stimulate new HIV infections in Asia

Published: February 28, 2011

Archaic laws criminalising same-sex relations in majority of Asian nations are fuelling new HIV infections, especially among men having sex with men. The laws deny MSM and other communities, access to prevention measures, care and treatment. Experts argue that this trend could impact recent gains made in HIV control as suppressing sexual rights only fuel its spread.

Outdated laws that treat same-sex relations as a crime in a third of Asia-Pacific countries fuel fresh HIV infections, especially among men who have sex with men (MSM), a most vulnerable community.
Experts see it as a blot on global advances made in HIV control and are lining up to lobby with 19 Asian countries to repeal their outdated laws.

From Bangkok to Mumbai, Asian cities already suffer the impact of such discriminatory laws and practices with MSM communities showing exponentially high infection rates compared with the general population.

"In the Asia-Pacific region, and across the world, there are too many examples of countries with laws, policies and practices that punish, rather than protect people in need of HIV services," said Michel Sidibe, executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). He was setting the agenda for a regional dialogue in Bangkok last week to deal with legal barriers against HIV prevention.

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