The Centre for Development of People (Cedep), a pro-minority rights organisation that promotes the rights of gays and lesbians, says high HIV/AIDS prevalence rate among the group can be reduced if their rights are respected.
Cedep administrator Dunker Kamba made the sentiments Tuesday in Mzuzu during an extraordinary District HIV/AIDS Coordinating Committee meeting for Mzuzu City.
Kamba said most homosexuals are unwilling to come in open for fear of stigma and this is fuelling the spread of the pandemic.
He then urged the general public in the country to stop discriminating gays and lesbians because they are also human beings like anyone else in the country.
“We can only reduce the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate among same-sex partners if the society starts respecting the rights of minority groupings.
“They are Malawians who also are registered voters and pay tax. They are entitled to the right to good health like any other citizen in the country,” Kamba said.
Speaking later in an interview, Cedep’s Research Coordinator Billy Gama said the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate among gays and lesbians in the country is at 21.4 per cent while the rate for the general population is 11.46 per cent, according to a 2008 survey.
Gama said lack of information on how gays and lesbians can prevent themselves from HIV/AIDS is the main factor fuelling the speared of the virus among them.
“Normally, men who have sex with other men assume that they cannot contract HIV/AIDS if they sleep around with their fellow men,” he said.
He further said a recent research conducted by Cedep established that most men who have sex with other men have a lot of partners both males and females.
He added that HIV/AIDS prevalence rate among same-sex partners is high because most of them are involved in drugs and alcohol abuse, which makes them not to make right decisions.
Meanwhile, Kamba has disclosed that plans are underway for his organisation to conduct a research in order to establish the population of gays and lesbians in the country.
Cedep, with funding from UNAIDS, UNDP through department of Nutrition and HIV/AIDS and UNFPA is currently operating projects in five districts in the country namely, Mzuzu, Nkhata Bay, Dwangwa in Nkhotakota, Mangochi and Lilongwe.
Reports show that the first person who was found with HIV/AIDS in United States of America in the early 1980`s was among men who have sex with other men.
Same-sex relationships came into the limelight in Malawi when Tionge Chimbalanga and Steve Monjeza held a traditional engagement in December 2009.
But they were subsequently arrested, convicted and sentenced to 14 years imprisonment with hard labour (IHL) on May 18, 2010.
However, they were released on May 29, 2010 through presidential pardon following discussion between former State President late Bingu wa Mutharika and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.—Malawi News AgencyFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :