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Fight against AIDS gets harder in Uganda as anti-gay bill passes

Health activists say LGBTI people are being treated like criminals and denied access to antiretroviral drugs
Activists say the fight against HIV in Uganda is getting harder now the anti-gay bill is passed.

Despite the anti-gay bill not even being law yet, the fight against AIDS is getting harder in Uganda.

Many LGBTI people are afraid to go to health clinics as sexual minorities are increasingly being treated as criminals.

‘We are trying to work underground, but now the challenge is that we have so much more work to do than before,” Frank Kamya, a leader of the anti-AIDS group Come Out Post-Test Club, said according to 76crimes.

‘All our members are relying on us now, not like before when they could access some health facilities themselves. But now they are living in fear, panic and tension.’

Trans activists have said HIV positive patients have been restricted access to antiretroviral medication.

As O-Blog-De-O-Blog-Da notes, this is merely a taste of how bad it will be once the law is enacted.

‘The bill, though yet to see finality into law, is already driving people underground, and will continue to disrupt the collection and dissemination of accurate and imperative information.

‘Threats, hateful speeches and discrimination from religious leaders, politicians and even biased media are increasing and resulting into insecurity to peer educators, staff and LGBTI community, which is hampering health service delivery.

‘When this law is enacted, it is anticipated, according to Spectrum, that it will get even worse.’

Before the Anti-Homosexuality Bill passed, it appeared the escalating rate of HIV among men who have sex with men was slowing down. It was around 13% last year – far higher than the national rate of 7.5%.

With the Ministry of Health focusing their efforts on helping those most in need, the mood appeared upbeat.

When Gay Star News spoke to Ugandan LGBTI activist Frank Mugishi as the Ugandan parliament shocked the world by passing the bill, he said all of his allies were caught unaware.

'We need the international community to draw attention to the bill being passed,’ he said.

‘I am very disappointed. All of my colleagues are panicking. They believe there is going to be a hunt. They think it is already law. And they believe they will die.

'For me, I am very strong. I am very sure we can find a solution and challenge it in any way possible.'

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill is awaiting the signature of President Yoweri Museveni. He has until 20 January to make it law or parliament can begin the procedure of passing it without the president's permission.

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