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LGBTI Persons and HIV/AIDS

The gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities have faced much of the blame, discrimination and prejudice linked with HIV/AIDS. A gay person with HIV or AIDS will therefore suffer a double burden of discrimination and negative attitudes towards them – because of having the disease, and because of being gay. As a result of the general prejudice and discrimination against gay and lesbian people, important ways of educating people about HIV and AIDS are lost. For example, sexuality education in schools ignores or avoids discussion about lesbian or gay relationships.

Social prejudice: There is still a lot of social prejudice against lesbians and gay men from their families, in the community; in the workplace; in schools and churches; and in public services.

The effects of double discrimination: LGBTI people often experience double discrimination:

  • Discrimination because of their sexual orientation and
  • discrimination because of HIV/AIDS

This discrimination can put them at more risk of getting infected with HIV, and make prevention and care work much more difficult. It can also worsen the impact of HIV on their lives.

Reasons for greater risk and vulnerability

  • It is harder to do direct and open safer sex education because many people still think that same-sex acts are immoral.
  • Many men and women who have same-sex relationships believe their behaviour is illegal or socially unacceptable – as a result many deny to themselves, to their close family and friends, and to the broader community, that they love or have sex with people of the same sex.
  • Many LGBTI persons cannot, or are afraid to, use public services (like health care and welfare, sexuality education) that would help to reduce the risk of HIV infection, or would help them to cope with HIV infection.