National official blames HIV/AIDS on homosexuals

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The Deputy Executive Secretary of Mozambique’s National AIDS Council (CNCS), Diogo Milagre, has denied making remarks earlier this week that accused gays and bisexuals of contributing to the spread of AIDS.

A reporter with the country’s news agency, AIM, covering the National Youth Meeting that ended Tuesday in the central district of Cheringoma wrote that, in a lecture on HIV/AIDS given to the participants, Milagre had spoken of homosexuality as a contributory factor to the epidemic.

This was, to say the least, surprising – nobody has ever doubted that HIV in Mozambique is spread overwhelmingly by heterosexual relations.

Milagre was also alleged to have stated that there are young people who have both gay and straight sexual relations and demanded “this practice must be combated immediately because it leads young people to a field of multiple, diffuse and uncontrolled sexual relations.”

Those Mozambicans who stand up for the rights of gay people were horrified that such statements could apparently be made by a senior figure in the fight against AIDS.

The NGO, Mozambican Association in Defence of Sexual Minorities (LAMBDA) protested and sent a statement to the CNCS, expressing its “profound disagreement” with Milagre’s statements.

“It’s the consensus that the main form of HIV transmission is unprotected sexual relations, be they heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual”, LAMBDA wrote, adding ” in Mozambique, as in most African countries, the main form of transmission is unprotected sex between men and women”.

Since gay relations, with or without protection, are a minority of sexual acts in Mozambique (or any other country) then their role in HIV transmission was “statistically small”.

“It is not the orientation of the sexual act that is problematic in the transmis sion of HIV, but whether it occurs without protection”, stated LAMBDA, noting “this is a principle that should be well-known by someone who has held the post of Deputy Executive Secretary of the CNCS for several years.

“In a country where the main form of HIV transmission is unprotected hetero-sexual sex, to single out bisexual relations is not only irrelevant, but is an unacceptable and lamentable attempt to stigmatise and harass the homosexual community, trying to turn it into a scapegoat. It goes against all the principles, documentation and literature on HIV/AIDS of the United Nations and of the international scientific community”.

LAMBDA argued that “multiple, diffuse and uncontrolled sexual relations” in Mozambique are much more common between heterosexuals than any other group – a phenomenon known in the AIDS literature as “Multiple Concurrent Partnerships.”

LAMBDA feared that, if the CNCS took up an anti-gay attitude, “this will marginalise still further a segment of society which, although a small minority, is als o a victim of HIV/AIDS and already suffers indescribable harassment and humiliation because of its sexual orientation”.

LAMBDA pointed out that the CNCS has not even recognised the existence of Mozambican gays.

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