Homosexuals fail to access treatment

CONSIDERED a key population group in the fight against HIV and Aids, homosexuals are still not receiving proper treatment in healthcare facilities.

At a dialogue on ending Aids ahead of the fifth replenishment of the Global Fund, Gays and Lesbians Associations of Zimbabwe (Galz) peer educator Bee Poller said people in the gay community were not receiving proper care.

Poller told the Weekend Post  that because of the way the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexual and queer (LGBTIQ) community are viewed, they have had to find donors to assist with preventative materials such as condoms.

“One of the biggest problems is in the rural areas because the clinics are too far and nurses and doctors do not know how to deal with homosexuals.

If a man goes to be treated for genital warts in the rectum, health professionals make a spectacle of them,” he said.
He said homosexuals need to be taught on how to protect themselves from contracting sexually transmitted infections because most of the products on the market only cater for heterosexual relationships.

He said as Galz tries to advocate for safe sexual activities among their communities, children are being raped with the blame being put on homosexuals.

Poller said that homosexuals are being abused daily in the churches and communities but are afraid to report the cases because of fear of victimisation by the police.

He said when homosexuals open up about their sexuality, they are often ignored, shouted at or beaten with the Bible.

“For those who are sensitised, we have no problem with them because they are willing to help regardless of your sexual preference. But some who are not, ignore and ridicule homosexuals,” he said.

Health and Child Care ministry director of HIV, Aids and Tuberculosis Owen Mugurungi said there has been pressure to get products suitable for homosexuals, however, in a limited setting.

Mugurungi said people are being asked to open up about their sexual orientation in order for them to get the right products.

He said it was, however, unfortunate that though homosexuals are considered a key population, women are still prioritised in treatment provisions.

“In the last Global Fund replenishment, we asked for condoms with extra lubricants to cater for the LGBTIQ community. However, nothing came.

“Seven years ago, we lobbied to have condoms taken to prisons but still that has not happened. The bottom line with regard to health is that we cannot afford to ignore anyone,” he said.

Despite constituting a sizeable number in society, homosexuals are not accepted in society with President Robert Mugabe calling them worse than pigs and dogs.
—Helen Kadirire

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