GENEVA—UNAIDS is concerned that the vilification of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities in Uganda could lead to heightened violence, stigma and discrimination against them and reduce their access to HIV and other essential services. In a recent media interview, the President, Yoweri Museveni, described being LGBT as a “deviation”.
“Using offensive language that describes LGBT people as “deviant” is simply wrong,” said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “Stigma and discrimination based on sexual orientation violates rights and keeps people away from HIV testing, treatment, prevention and care services. The HIV epidemic can never end while some groups of people are excluded from health services.”
UNAIDS advocates with legislators, other government authorities and civil society globally to establish anti-discrimination and protective laws to eliminate the discrimination and violence faced by LGBT people and to advance the right to health for all people without exception.
Uganda has made considerable progress against the HIV epidemic in recent years. Of the estimated 1.5 million people living with HIV in Uganda in 2019, around 1.3 million were aware of their HIV status and 1.2 million were on treatment. More than 95% of pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV in Uganda receive antiretroviral therapy to keep them healthy and prevent transmission of the virus to their children.
However, in Uganda gay men and other men who have sex with men are less likely to have access to the HIV testing, treatment, prevention and care services that could keep them healthy and well, in part because of the stigma and discrimination they face in health-care settings and throughout society.
“It’s clear that to end the AIDS epidemic in Uganda there is a need to build a more inclusive society where everyone enjoys the right to health. UNAIDS stands ready to work with all partners to end stigma and discrimination against the LGBT community and achieve the full respect of their universal human rights,” said Ms Byanyima.