May 24, 2009 – African Eye News Service
‘Brand HIV-positive people on the buttocks’
Ezulwini, Swaziland – A proposal by a Swaziland member of parliament that HIV-positive people be branded on the buttocks has been met with outrage. This week Swaziland MP and leader of the gospel group Ncandweni Christ Ambassadors, Timothy Myeni, told a leadership workshop for fellow MPs that Swaziland needed a mandatory law for testing people for HIV.
"Before having sex with anyone, people will have to check their partners’ buttocks before proceeding," Myeni told the workshop. Swaziland Aids Support Organisation spokesman Vusi Matsebula said: "His utterances represent the views of someone who is still sleeping around. Maybe the branding will help him know what kind of a person he is about to sleep with."
27 May 2009 – Plus News
AFRICA: Prevention efforts and infection patterns mismatched
Johannesburg (PlusNews) – In at least five African countries, scarce resources are being spent on national HIV prevention campaigns that do not reach the people most at risk of infection, new research has found. Between 2007 and 2008, UNAIDS and the World Bank partnered with the national AIDS authorities of Kenya, Lesotho, Swaziland, Uganda and Mozambique to find out how and where most HIV infections were occurring in each country, and whether existing prevention efforts and expenditure matched these findings. The recently released reports reveal that few prevention programmes are based on existing evidence of what drives HIV/AIDS epidemics in the five countries surveyed.
In Lesotho, where nearly one in four are living with HIV, an analysis of national prevalence and behavioural data found that most new infections were occurring because people had more than one partner at a time, both before and during marriage. But Lesotho has no prevention strategies to address the problem of concurrent partnerships, or target couples who are married or in long-term relationships.
An evaluation of Mozambique’s prevention response found that an estimated 19 percent of new HIV infections resulted from sex work, 3 percent from injecting drug use, and 5 percent from men who have sex with men (MSM), yet there are very few programmes targeting sex workers, and none aimed at drug users and MSM. The research also found that spending on HIV prevention was often simply too low: Lesotho spent just 13 percent of its national AIDS budget on prevention, whereas Uganda spent 34 percent, despite having an HIV infection rate of only 5.4 percent.
Debrework Zewdie, director of the World Bank’s Global HIV/AIDS Unit, noted that the current global economic downturn made it more important than ever to get the most impact out of investments in HIV prevention. "These syntheses use the growing amounts of data and information available to better understand each country’s epidemic and response, and identify how prevention might be more effective." The reports made recommendations on how the countries could move towards more evidence-based prevention strategies to make more efficient use of limited resources.
Lesotho was advised to revise the content of its prevention messages to address multiple concurrent partnerships and integrate partner reduction into all future policies. One of the recommendations to Mozambique was that condom promotion programmes be focused on high-risk groups such as sex workers. The five-country project also aimed to build capacity to enable these nations to undertake similar studies in future, as part of their ongoing efforts to evaluate and plan HIV responses.
May 29, 2009 – 365Gay.com
African MP apologizes for call to brand PWAs
by 365gay Newscenter Staff
Johannesburg, South Africa – A member of Swaziland’s Parliament has apologized after calling for the branding of people with HIV/AIDS. Earlier this week at a workshop for MPs, Timothy Myeni said that people with HIV/AIDS should have a warning branded onto their buttocks so that others who have sex with them know of their status. The suggestion drew outrage from HIV/AIDS action groups. The tiny landlocked kingdom in southern Africa has the highest HIV infection rate in the world. Almost 43 per cent of the population is believed to be living with HIV/AIDS.
“How can a legislator lobby for the branding of HIV positive people?” asked Swazi AIDS activist Siphiwe Hlophe. “We do not need legislators who think like him because some of the people who voted for him could be positive, why is he then discriminating them?”
Myeni, an evangelical Christian and sometime gospel singer, said his remark was “not a statement, but a question” that he posed during the HIV/AIDS workshop with government policy makers. “I’m very sorry. If you need me to show a sign of how sorry I am, I’m ready,” the South African Press Association quoted Myeni saying after his remarks were broadly reported in South Africa. I’m here to withdraw those things I asked that are really bad, which I now realize,” he said.
February 17,2010 – Times of Swaziland
‘Gays turned back in clinics’
by sibongile SUKATI
Ezulwini — Homo-sexual people in the country have alleged that they are turned back at local hospitals when they seek treatment.
The gay community further said there was a high HIV infection rate amongst them, but due to the lack of treatment they would soon die. This shocking revelation was made by Jimmy James Lotter of the Gay Lesbian Association of Swaziland Against HIV/AIDS to the visiting UNAIDS Executive Director and UN Under Secretary General Michel Sidibe. Lotter made this revelation at the Royal Swazi Convention Centre when Sidibe met with the Civil Society Representatives.
Lotter told Sidibe that discrimination against same sex couples in Swaziland was so rife that they were often told that they would not be treated because of their sexual orientation. During the open discussion Lotter said government further did not provide ‘same sex condoms’ adding that there was no programme in the country that considered the lifestyles and treatment of infected gay people.The same sex condoms are said to be thicker than normal condoms.
“Our prevention programmes are also lacking because no one wants to pay attention to the gay community,” he said. He said it was important that the lives of HIV infected gay people be improved. Sidibe said UNAIDS still had a lot of work to do especially in Africa on issues of marginalised groups such as homosexuals.
Sidibe said in Africa same sex relationships were frowned upon and as a result one found that people were leading double lives just to avoid stigmatisation. He made an example of China where he said a few years ago about a 35 per cent HIV infection was discovered on men on men partners. “In one instance they would act as if they were heterosexuals yet they lived double lives,” he said. As a result Sidibe said the Chinese government had tackled the matter head on and stopped criminalising such activities.
“We can never achieve zero HIV infection rate if some members of society continued to be marginalised,” he said. Sidibe said the fight against the pandemic could never be won if some people in society were continuously being treated as outcasts. Also in attendance were HIV activists’ organisations such as Swaziland Positive Living (SWAPOL), Swaziland Aids Support Organisation (SASO) and Swaziland Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (SWANEPHA).
August 19th, 2011 – Behind The Mask
Open Society Hosts Meeting Of LGBT Activists From Southern Africa
The Open Society Initiatives for Southern Africa (OSISA) has just concluded a three day meeting in Johannesburg for LGBT activists from 13 regional countries. During the meeting participants were asked to form three groups (Lesbians /Bisexual women/WSW, Gay/Bisexual/ MSM and Transgender /FTM/MTF/Non conforming) to identify the problems faced by each group regarding HIV/Aids. Most of the groups shared the same sentiments such as legal framework, laws and policies that hinder the LGBT community from accessing services. They also discussed access to justice, access to education, social empowerment, socio-cultural issues and hate crimes.
“It was open and fair enough to cover HIV related issues facing LGBT communities regionally and I strongly believe that all the ideas together will bring change in African countries” said TP Mothopeng from Lesotho’s Matrix Support Group. During the meeting activists also shared their experiences on sexual orientation, gender identity and HIV/Aids, examined country specific context for LGBT and HIV issues, developed an advocacy agenda and strategy and then elected 10 people who will now represent the LGBT group at the next joint workshop which will take place in October where the three key groups will be represented.
Ian Swartz, OSISA programme coordinator for LGBTI special initiatives said in his opening remarks “The goal of the meeting is to build the capacity of the three key groups (LGBTI activists, women living with HIV, and sex workers) in 13 countries to develop a regional advocacy and lobbying strategy to address HIV and Aids.” For many years the HIV within LGBT sector has been led by gay men and it is only recently that the WSW were brought on board. As a result of these changes this meeting was totally different and the Trans community found they scored more nominations than the other identities to be on the working group.
In October 2010 UNIFEM [now UN Women] issued a call for proposals to work with three marginalized communities [namely sex workers, women living with HIV and LGBT communities] to develop regional advocacy strategies on HIV and Aids. The HIV and Aids programme, in partnership with the Women’s Rights programme and the Special Initiative on LGBT rights submitted a proposal and were awarded the contract.