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Statement on the proposed assessment of HIV prevalence among the prison population
Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ)
January 18, 2011

GALZ applauds the National Aids Council for taking steps to carry out an assessment of HIV prevalence and risk behaviours among the prison populations in Zimbabwe.

We believe that men, women and children in these settings are vulnerable hence it is important to ensure that the health of those who constitute this population is protected, as they are a part of the broader community. We hope that this assessment will ultimately improve access to HIV and Aids services by the prison population within and those they interact with outside prison.

We call upon NAC to carry out more evidence based interventions with lesbian gay, bisexual, transgendered and intersex communities in Zimbabwe as they have been identified as a part of more at risk populations in the Zimbabwe National Aids Strategic Planning document. (ZNASP 2006-2010) that:

" There can be no doubt that there are men who have sex with other men. They are at risk of HIV infection and passing on the virus to their partners, including female partners. Furthermore, international experience has shown that ignoring this group or adopting punitive approaches will only serve to drive MSM underground and reduce opportunities to dialogue with this group. An assessment of MSM patterns, meeting points and behaviours will therefore be carried out, and adequate public health interventions developed based on the findings."

GALZ notes three important issues from the statement above:

  • The admission that homosexual men exist in Zimbabwe although there is no mention of lesbian and bisexual women.
  • The criminalizing of sex between consenting men prejudices efforts to reduce HIV in Zimbabwe.
  • There is need to conduct research into MSM and develop public health interventions based on the findings indicating that the NAC is willing to acknowledge the place of homosexual activity in its awareness and intervention work.

Although highlighted, we note that not much has been done to address this issue hence we call upon NAC to prioritise interventions for men who have sex with men and women who have sex with women in Zimbabwe as part of it's commitment to Universal access to HIV treatment, prevention, care and support.

Visit the GALZ fact sheet

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