CHHR to incorporate Malawi gays, sex workers in Aids fight

Unless government include high risk groups in national HIV programming and funding priorities, Malawi will not achieve anything in the fight against further spread of HIV, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) alerted district officials on Sunday.

CHRR Programs Manager, Timothy Mtambo, made the remarks in Salima on Sunday, when the organization briefed District Commissioners from the Central Region on the HIV/AIDS and Human Rights advocacy program to be jointly implemented by CHRR, the Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP) in conjunction with Aids and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA).

Statistics

Mtambo said according to the Malawi HIV and AIDS Extended National Action Framework for 2010-2012, the prevalence of HIV and AIDS is very high in risk groups like commercial sex workers and men who have sex with men.

Gift Trapence: Programs Manager for Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP), a Malawian NGO working on sexual health and human rights of minority groups.

“Statistics indicate that HIV prevalence rate among female sex workers in Malawi stands at 71 percent while that of men having sex with men is pegged at 21 percent, surpassing the national prevalence rate currently at 10 percent,” he said.

Mtambo said failure to include the said groups in national HIV programming and funding priorities is negatively affecting the fight against the pandemic in the country.

Protection

He therefore, asked government to consider reviewing some laws and policies that affect minority rights if the country is to make significant progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

“It’s now high time Malawi accepts the existence of sexual minority populations and incorporate them in various programmes that aim at reducing further spread of HIV,” said Mtambo

“These people also deserve the protection and fulfilment of fundamental human rights, including the right to choose their partner and the right to health,” said Mtambo

He also noted that the poor human rights environment and high HIV prevalence data indicate that men who have sex with men, sex workers and transgender persons often do not have the luxury of negotiating for safer sex or access to HIV treatment and care.

CHRR, CEDEP and ARASA intend to jointly implement a two year HIV/AIDS, TB and Human Rights advocacy program in 20 districts across the country.

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