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HC Order to Boost AIDS Awareness Efforts

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The Delhi High Court decision to decriminalise homosexuality is a step towards embracing the secluded’ community not just socially, but clinically as well. According to National Aids Control Organisaton (NACO), adult HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men (MSM) is 5.69% higher than the female sex workers (5.38%). Bruised by the isolation at the hands of society and at times by the police, they have been apprehensive about approaching the medics. The order passed by the Delhi HC will help them come out of the closet.

The court order will help to bring these sexual minorities’ within the mainstream and increase awareness on the related issues. The fear of legal action prevents many homosexuals to share their problems with medical professionals.

“Non government organisations and government intervention programmes have faced challenges while working with the community. Legalising homosexuality will help them to come out in the open without fear and will also give a boost to the AIDS eradication efforts,” Dinesh Mathur, head of department, sexually transmitted diseases at SMS medical college and former project director, state AIDS control society said.

Most people still choose to remain in the denial mode on the presence of a large population of homosexuals, who have been struggling to cope up with the increasing incidences of AIDS. Of the affected, males are the worst hit. Unsafe sex in MSM was found to be responsible for nearly 1.5 percent HIV infection , while female homosexuals constituted 0.5 percent of the total rise in the HIV cases registered in the initial six months of fiscal year 2008-09.

The social stigma attached to the homosexual community has impeded the development work initiated by various organisations. Often they had to face opposition from not just hardliner groups but also police which held them on the grounds of promoting illegal activities. There have been instances when AIDS awareness activists working under the framework of national aids control policy too, were apprehended by the police.

“The fear of being attacked is persistent as the orthodox groups will not accept the new order. However, we want a change in the attitude of police, which has earlier shown an inconsideration towards the sentiments of the gay community, but should now play a more supportive role,” an activist from an NGO working for gay people, said.

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Source: Times of India

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