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UNAIDS: Concern over arrests of homosexuals, India

UNAIDS expresses concern over arrests of men who have sex with men in India

11 January 2006 – The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has expressed concern that the recent arrests of men who have sex with men in Lucknow, India, criminalizes the people most at risk of HIV infection possibly increases stigma and discrimination and could expand the AIDS epidemic.

UNAIDS commended the Government of India, led by the National AIDS Control Organization, for appointing officers in each state to work with people most at risk of HIV infection, such as men who have sex with men, sex workers and injecting drug users.

In this regard, it said it was encouraging the national police authorities to work closely with the organizations that support communities vulnerable to HIV infection and strengthen HIV prevention efforts.

UNAIDS stressed that in India, as in other countries where sex between men is criminalized, fear of prosecution often prevented those men from taking advantage of the information and services they needed to protect themselves from HIV infection. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that help provide information, prevention tools, including condoms, and care needed to be able to operate fearlessly, it said.

Meanwhile, the Programme said, the newly formed Global Steering Committee comprising more than 40 senior representatives of the UN, donor and developing countries, funding agencies and HIV-infected groups, met in Washington, DC, yesterday to begin designing national “road maps” to move as close as possible to universal access to prevention and treatment methods as possible by 2010.

“Despite important gains in political leadership and financial resources for AIDS, 3 million people died from AIDS and 5 million people became newly infected with HIV last year alone. Vastly increased HIV prevention and treatment efforts are urgently needed to slow and reverse the AIDS epidemic,” UNAIDS said.

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