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Malawi Official: Gay Rights to Fight AIDS


A Malawi official said on Tuesday that recognizing the rights of gay citizens is essential to success in the fight against AIDS. The statement from Mary Shawa, secretary for nutrition, HIV, and AIDS in the president's office, marked the first public comment from a government official about gay issues in the conservative country.

Shawa, speaking at a two-day conference on HIV/AIDS, said that in order to fight the disease, Malawi needs to give gay people access to HIV and AIDS services, according to Reuters.

"There is a need to incorporate a human rights approach in the delivery of HIV and AIDS services to such risk groups like men who have sexual intercourse with men if we have to fight AIDS," said Shawa, according to Reuters.

Advocacy organizations within Malawi report that 25% of the country's gay population lives with HIV. More than 800,000 people have died of AIDS since it first appeared in the country in 1985, and over 1 million children have been orphaned.

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