World Aids Day : Men who have sex with men

NAIROBI, Kenya, 23 November, 2010 – Kenya’s response to HIV will remain dim if the country does not make deliberate efforts to develop programs that are inclusive of most at risk populations (MARPS) such as sex workers, injecting drug users and men who have sex with men (MSM). According to the Modes of Transmission Survey (MOT 2008), 15.2% of all new HIV infections in Kenya were reported among MSM. Further research reveals that 60% of MSM in Kenya are also currently living in heterosexual relationships. That means high HIV infection among MSM has a significant dimension to the HIV burden in the country. A study released by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) this year found that the strain of HIV among men who sex with men in Kenya is similar to the HIV strain found in heterosexuals in the country. Even then, MSM remain marginalized and alienated from accessing vital services, including health, in the country. Most importantly, there are legal hurdles involved. "Sex between men is illegal in Kenya - punishable by up to 14 years in prison and is the same as robbing a bank as it’s considered a felony. I think the policies should change and MSMs should be treated as normal people who need services like everybody else.” David Kuria, Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK). The world AIDS day will be celebrated 1st of December. This year’s theme is 'Universal Access and Human Rights.' Universal access to health services and improvement of human rights for MSM will be important in escalating the response towards HIV/AIDS.