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Gay men in Jamaica ‘face higher levels of HIV due to discrimination’

PinkNews Staff Writer March 13, 2009
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Gay Jamaican men are suffering from high levels of sexually-transmitted diseases due to discriminaty barriers in accessing healthcare, it has been suggested.

According to the Caribbean HIV & AIDS Alliance, gay men are reluctant to go to healthcare providers because of homophobic laws and attitudes in the country.

A 2008 survey commissioned by the Ministry of Health suggested that 31.8 per cent of gay men in Jamaica are living with HIV. Another 8.5 per cent were reported to have chlamydia, while 2.5 per cent had gonorrhea and 5.5 per cent had syphilis.

A gay healthcare peer educator told the Jamaican Gleaner: “Many MSMs [men who have sex with men] are not secure in themselves and so put themselves at risk by having multiple partners.”

The source, who requested anonymity, added: “Our main problem is that based on the law, we have problems interacting with each other. There are no safe spaces.”

Earlier this month, Jamaica’s prime minister, Bruce Golding, said that the country will not decriminalise homosexual acts and that he has a duty to “protect” the country.

Speaking in parliament in support of a new sexual offences bill, he said: “We are not going to yield to the pressure, whether that pressure comes from individual organisations, individuals, whether that pressure comes from foreign governments or groups of countries, to liberalise the law as it relates to buggery.”

Related topics: Americas

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