Discrimination against gay men is hampering HIV programs in Jamaica
November 20 2004 1:00 AM ET
Government AIDS awareness and prevention programs in Jamaica are being hampered by discrimination and violence against gay men, according to a Human Rights Watch report released Tuesday, the Miami Herald reports. The 79-page report, titled "Hated to Death: Homophobia, Violence, and Jamaica's HIV/AIDS Epidemic," documents "extensive police persecution of people suspected of homosexual conduct as well as sex workers and people living with HIV/AIDS," according to an HRW release.
Rebecca Schleifer, author of the report, says some of the crimes against gay and HIV-positive people reported in the country include the stabbing and stoning death of a man suspected of being gay after police beat him with batons and urged onlookers to participate and "extensive police persecution" of people suspected of homosexual conduct as well as sex workers and HIV-positive people. HIV patients also typically receive poor or no public health care treatment because of the stigma surrounding their disease, according to the report. About 1.5% of Jamaica's adults are HIV-positive, according to health officials.
"Until Jamaica addresses the epidemic of homophobic violence, it will have no hope against the epidemic of HIV/AIDS," says Schleifer. "Jamaica's ambitious HIV/AIDS programs are bound to fail unless the government eliminates the discriminatory laws and abusive practices that undermine its prevention and treatment efforts."