A shocking 90 percent of gay men in the Asia Pacific Region don’t have access to HIV prevention and care. In this region, discrimination and stigmatization of homosexuality and HIV leads to lack of access to HIV-related medical care, which leads to the spread of HIV.
So what does this mean for countries in the Asia Pacific Region?
Gay male sex is illegal in 19 of 48 countries in the Asia Pacific region. Even in countries where homosexual sex is legal, laws are often in place that violate LGBT rights. These laws obstruct advocacy, outreach, and service delivery related to HIV. Law enforcement often lags behind HIV policies, making HIV programs ineffective in preventing the spread of HIV.
And making HIV prevention and care available is not sufficient to stop the spread of HIV. Many countries have legal and social environments that make it difficult for LGBT people to access HIV treatment. Several countries, including Nepal, India, the Philippines, and South Korea have recently changed laws and policies to address the spread of HIV, but many other countries in the region continue to criminalize homosexuality and stop large-scale HIV prevention.
Despite efforts to change the laws and prevent HIV, much of the region is not seeing improvement in HIV rates.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) study explained that many countries are failing to prevent high HIV rates due to discriminatory laws, abuse and human rights violations against homosexuals. HIV prevalence is particularly alarming among homosexual men and transgender people in these countries; they account for 10 to 30 percent of new HIV infections in Asian countries.
In March, Todd Heywood reported on a statement from the head of U.N. AIDS that increased HIV infections are a result of criminalization of homosexuality. In the Asia Pacific Region, where several countries criminalize homosexuality and homosexuality is a strong taboo, it isn’t surprising that HIV infection is such a serious problem.
Photo credit: dbking