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Homearrow News and Events Year 2011 Azad’s U-turn: I Meant HIV, Not Gay Sex

Azad’s U-turn: I Meant HIV, Not Gay Sex

Times of India
06 July 2011
By, Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi, India

Under fire for saying that gay sex was unnatural and a disease, Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Tuesday claimed that he did not brand men having sex with men as a “disease”, but was actually referring to HIV.

Defending his description of MSM as “unnatural”, Azad said the issue wasn’t “such a talked-about phenomenon some years ago although we now hear it is common in the country”. He, however, maintained that MSM, as a community, was of serious concern in the country’s HIV/AIDS fight. UNAIDS hails India’s work on MSM groups

New Delhi: While claiming he did not brand men having sex with men (MSM) a disease, Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Tuesday reiterated that gay men were a big concern due to the high prevalence of HIV/ AIDS among them.

He said, “We have managed to bring down the prevalence of HIV among truckers, drug users and sex workers, but the prevalence remains high among MSM. That’s because we don’t know where to find them and how to prevent them from getting infected.” Azad said, while HIV prevalence in general population is only 0.31%, it is as high as 7.3% among MSM.

On Monday had called MSM “unnatural”. He went on to say that it was a disease that had come to India from foreign shores. Azad on Tuesday clarified, “I wasn’t talking about MSM, but about HIV as a disease that has come to India from foreign shores.”

Speaking to TOI, Dr Charles Gilks, head of UNAIDS in India, supported the nation’s work on MSM. He said, “India was the first country in Asia to recognize the vulnerability of the MSM population and put in place required interventions.

The National AIDS Control Organization was also instrumental in putting down Section 377, decriminalizing homosexuality, as it was proving to be an impediment to effective public health intervention.” UNAIDS said MSM was not a disease and gay men could not be discriminated upon on the basis of their sexual orientation.

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