Uganda's LGBTI community and AIDS Activists Unite in Health Access Campaign

Published: October 14, 2011

Ugandan LGBTI health lobbyists and HIV/Aids activists have united to promote access for gays to HIV prevention and treatment in public health centres in Uganda.

Representatives of the two minority groups resolved at a meeting on Wednesday in Kampala to “Share experience and sustaining visibility in demanding access to care, treatment and support for LGBTI.”

Homosexuality in Uganda is illegal and considered a taboo subject in the same way declaring one’s sero-status was 20 years ago in Uganda. However, People Living with HIV/Aids or PLHA activists braved the social stigma, name calling and came out to create visibility and demanding for rights of PLHAs in HIV programmes.

Today Uganda’s openness is celebrated globally for reducing national HIV/Aids prevalence from 30 per cent in the 1980s to about 6.4 per cent this year, according to Uganda Aids Commission figures.

Esther Gibone, a Programmes Officer at gay rights lobbyists group, Uganda Health and Science Press Association (Uhspa Uganda) said, “It is this zeal we want to get from PLHA activists. We also want to work closely together with them.”

The meeting, organized by LGBTI lobbyists group Uhspa Uganda, brought together 50 LGBTI and PLHA activists. It drew a cross section of UHSPA partner LGBTI activists from LGBTI rights organizations, sex workers, transgender activists and HIV positive men for change and those agitating for access to health and treatment for HIV,.

The meeting was partly intended to link the two groups together and explore ways to support each other in access to health and general human rights recognition.

Flavia Kyomukama, a senior PLHA activist and member of Uhspa Uganda said she has lived with the virus for more than 10 years. She testified to the group that coming out had challenges but, someone had to do it.

Kyomukama is a feminist and Executive Director of the Global Coalition of Women Living with HIV/Aids and also sits on the Board of the National Forum of People Living with HIV/Aids (NAFOPHANU). She was recently elected to the central decision making committee of the Uganda Aids Commission and promised to put gay rights to health as her top priority.

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