Gay rights groups brave abuse and violence to fight HIV in Cameroon, reports Reuters.
Fleur listens intently to the speaker talk about gay sex before slowly raising his hand. “Can we catch AIDS by swallowing sperm?” he asks, prompting laughter from his peers at the group discussion held by Alcondoms, an organization promoting the rights and health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
It is serious business.
Cameroon has the second highest HIV prevalence rate in West and Central Africa (Nigeria is worse) and men who have sex with men are hit the hardest according to UNAIDS. One in 25 people in Cameroon are living with HIV, but almost a quarter of men who have sex with men in Yaounde have the HIV virus.
In Douala, the economic capital, two in five men who have sex with men are infected, according to the state’s national AIDS control committee.
Cameroon’s gays live in fear.
The fear of discrimination and threat of five years in prison are driving MSM and LGBT people away from hospitals and state programs, according to civil society groups who say they fill the gap by providing condoms, counseling and healthcare. Animosity is growing between a largely conservative society and a younger generation less concerned by homosexuality in a country which prosecutes people for being gay more aggressively than almost any other nation in the world. 50 people were convicted of homosexuality between 2010 and 2014, for acts ranging from cross-dressing and wearing make-up to a man texting ‘I love you’ to another man, according to data collected by The Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS.
Gay Activist wishes them success, health and their human rights for 2017.