Decriminalizing Homosexuality Can Play A Critical Role In Combatting HIV/AIDS, Say Health Officials

Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 11, 2021 (SKNIS): Being a homosexual can result in rejection by family, being ostracized by the community, fear of getting tested for HIV/AIDS, and even serving jail time. Against this backdrop, health officials in St. Kitts and Nevis said that decriminalizing homosexuality is critical to combatting HIV/AIDS.

“If you criminalize that situation, that process [homosexuality], it stops the people from coming out and being able to do the test. If I am coming out to do the test as a homosexual individual, you will jail me for that… so I will not want to come. As such, it will not mitigate the transmission, but instead, fuel it, agitate for more transmission of the virus,” said Dr. Mathias Ofre, National HIV/AIDS Programme Coordinator, during Wednesday’s (February 10) edition of ‘Working for You.’

Dr. Ofre noted that where the decriminalization process is concerned, it is important for the relevant bodies to peruse the systems and find a suitable way to approach the issue “in a way that will prevent stigmatism and allow persons to come out.”

“How can we properly diagnose these people if they are not coming out to do the test,” he asked. “If they are open enough, I accept you for who you are, and that gives me an opportunity to reach you, educate you, and also help you by providing proper treatment that would mitigate the transmission,” he added.

The National HIV/AIDS Programme Coordinator debunked the rumours of HIV/AIDS being a homosexual disease.

“There are people who are bisexual so that could also transmit from both the male partners to the female partners and that is how it spreads. So, we just have to apply wisdom on how we handle situations,” he said. “Straight individuals can actually get infected. That is why we said having unprotected sex could predispose an individual to be infected.”

Lucine Pemberton-Vaughn, Health Educator/Counsellor, said that stigmatizing and discriminating a person’s sexual orientation does not help and so it is time for people to move away from such behaviour.

“…persons seem to think that if you are more accepting that you are condoning what they do. We have to understand that just as how you have to answer to God for your lying, stealing, forgiveness the homosexuals have to answer to God as well, said Mrs. Pemberton-Vaughan. “So, we are not condoning, we are saying that we should let people be who they want to be, realizing that God will judge each of us.”

She implored everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, to be responsible in their sexual practices, to use protection, and to get tested.

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