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Criminalizing Homosexuality Risks World Health, Report Finds

Criminalizing Homosexuality Risks World Health, Report Finds

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Criminalizing homosexuality in countries around the world has only worsened the spread of HIV, according to new guidelines by the World Health Organization, which calls on governments to enact antidiscrimination policies.

WHO reports that it's illegal to be a gay man in more than 75 countries, and that transgender people lack legal recognition, with disturbing consequences.

"These legal conditions force [gay and transgender people] to risk criminal sanctions if they want to discuss their level of sexual risk with a service provider," the study found. "They also give police the authority to harass organizations that provide services to these populations."

Even if patients were willing to risk being open with doctors about their sexuality, they'd encounter a lack of knowledge of HIV and AIDS among medical professionals in low- and middle-income countries, according to WHO.

The report warns of widening HIV epidemics among gay men in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America -- where estimates say more than half of new infections are caused by unprotected sex. One analysis found that gay men are 19.3 times more likely to have HIV than the general population in low- and middle-income countries.

WHO distributed a laundry list of recommendations for prevention in the report. The guidelines are the first ever made for responding to the epidemic among gay men and transgender people in these countries.

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Lucas Grindley

Lucas Grindley is VP and Editorial Director for Here Media, which is parent company to The Advocate. His Twitter account is filled with politics, Philip Glass appreciation, and adorable photos of his twin toddler daughters.
Lucas Grindley is VP and Editorial Director for Here Media, which is parent company to The Advocate. His Twitter account is filled with politics, Philip Glass appreciation, and adorable photos of his twin toddler daughters.