Nigeria: Anti-gay law interrupts local treatment of HIV for gay men
The negative impact of Nigeria’s anti-gay legislature on HIV treatment has been shown to have been potentially substantial.
Since the signing of the “Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill” in January 2014 by President Goodluck Jonathan, the treatment of HIV has dropped significantly in the population of men who have sex with men.
Erasing 76 Crimes reports that since the signing of the law, the treatment of HIV in several states, using UNAIDS’s ‘Comprehensive Minimum Prevention Package Intervention’, was down by between 10 and 70 percent.
The law means anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage or civil union may be jailed for up to 14 years. The law also bans people who register, operate or participate in gay clubs, societies or organisations, or who publicly show that they are in a same-sex relationship.
Although the Nigerian government has ensured that health-care for LGBT people will not be affected by the new law, The Economist reported: “[…] doctors are afraid of the consequences if they provide it, citing the law as a reason not to help.
“Gay Nigerians say they are routinely turned away from hospitals. Many more are afraid to seek medical help in the first place. Local advocacy organizations such as the Initiative for Equal Rights have stopped issuing referrals to public-health institutions, lest people are “outed” by unsympathetic medics.”
With the second-highest number of HIV infections a year, Nigeria’s population has a strong need for comprehensive and effective HIV care.
While the public health system fails to treat gays, donor-funded aid clinics are trying to pick up the slack. Which is proving difficult as foreign aid is spread thinly across organizations in developing countries.
There has been worldwide condemnation of Nigeria, since the law was signed. Same-sex relationships were already illegal in the country prior to the new law passing.