Despite a veneer of progressive policymaking, bias against the rising number of men with HIV remains commonplace in Mozambique, deterring many from seeking treatment
In June, Mozambique dropped a colonial-era law criminalising homosexual activities. The change passed relatively quietly in the southern African country. After all, no one had ever been convicted.
A few weeks later, Tony Andrea felt like he was coming down with malaria. The 22-year-old went to a government health clinic. Andrea is gay and, despite the recently overturned prohibition, had always felt safe being open about his sexuality. He certainly never suspected it might interfere with his ability to access malaria treatment.
When he arrived at the clinic, “the nurse told me, ‘People like you, you lie a lot … You don’t have malaria,’” he says. Andrea said he was not sure why she suspected he was gay, but he put it down to his dress or speech. Aside from being demoralising, discrimination against men who have sex with men is jeopardising government efforts to reduce the high incidence of HIV and AIDS. At 11.5%, Mozambique has one of the 10 highest HIV rates in the world. But in Maputo, the capital, among men who have sex with men and are aged 25 years and older, that rate nearly triples to 33.8%. Read more via the Guardian