BONELA to present findings of access to health by 'gays'

The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) is expected to make a presentation at the National AIDS Council (NAC) on findings of an assessment of access to health services by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans-gendered community as well as a study on men who have sex with men (MSM) in May this year.

BONELA says this decision was made by former president Festus Mogae, at the NAC last week, following a query by BONELA as the presentation initially scheduled for May last year, was cancelled at the last minute, without consultation.

Commenting on this turn of events, the Director of BONELA, Uyapo Ndadi said; "As an organisation, we are excited that our leaders are now more progressive and open towards issues of sexual minorities which is reflective of sound democratic principles.

The fact that we were the first country to provide antiretroviral therapy to those in need was a great leap forward, but evidence reveals that this alone will be overshadowed and undermined by leaving sexual minorities in the lurch."

In addition, BONELA's Prevention and Research Initiative for Sexual Minorities, Coordinator, Felistus Motimedi said that Botswana can not respond adequately to an epidemic based on hearsay, but needs to engage in a holistic intervention that is evidence-based and tailor-made to suit different groups.

She added that the research findings by BONELA are unique as no such research has been conducted in Botswana before, 'thus it will assist the country in putting in place policies and programmes inclusive of marginalized and most at risk populations'.

BONELA added that they conducted a needs assessment on access to health services by sexual minorities as well as a study on MSM in 2008 to determine prevalence of HIV and knowledge of HIV transmission in this community.

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