Anti-gay stigma hinders bid to lower Cote d’Ivoire’s HIV rate

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ABIDJAN - Activists warn that unless something is done about the heavy stigmatisation men who have sex with men -- or MSM --face in Ivorian society – especially those who are HIV positive – it will be difficult to build on progress in lowering the country’s HIV prevalence rate.
Dr. Camille Anoma, coordinator of an NGO that runs Clinique de Confiance, the first to target MSM, says discrimination against this group is common.

According to Claver N. Toure, executive director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender group Alternative Côte d’Ivoire, the situation would be far worse without Clinique de Confiance and the other two other clinics that welcome MSM.

The MSM are obligated to get their treatment and their prevention from these clinics because they’re not going to the general hospitals, where they may be treated with derision, he says.

Cote d’Ivoire’s HIV prevalence rate, estimated at three percent by UNAIDS in 2011, is one of the highest in West Africa.

Although available data is limited, internal figures from Clinique de Confiance show that the figure for MSM was over 24 percent in 2009. /IPS (END//2012)

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