Laws across the continent also criminalize homosexuality. Yet, punishing men who have sex with men force them into secrecy. They are unable to access counseling and testing, making it almost impossible for HIV prevention and treatment interventions to reach them. In 2008, when the Senegalese government jailed nine gay HIV outreach workers under a law prohibiting “acts against nature,” health workers went into hiding, advocacy groups disbanded and HIV treatment sites were shut down.
The time has come for African leaders to take action against bad laws that stifle our HIV response. We must challenge societal values rooted in fear and prejudice and implement laws based on human rights and sound public health.
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