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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
NIGERIA: Nigeria Anti-Gay Marriage Bill Risks AIDS Funding
Yinka Ibukun
December 5, 2011
Associated Press (12.04.11) - Monday, December 05, 2011

Some AIDS advocates and prevention workers worry that a new anti-gay bill in Nigeria could put their work in jeopardy if it becomes law. Passed recently by the Senate, the bill criminalizing gay marriage also levels 10 years in prison for organizing, operating or supporting gay clubs, organizations, and meetings. Advocates say it could be used against groups providing HIV/AIDS outreach to gay men.

"We work with them trying to reduce their risk factors, trying to make them more healthy and have safer sex practices," said Meyiwa Ede of Society for Family Health. "If we can't work with them anymore, then they are vulnerable." UK Prime Minister David Cameron recently threatened to cut aid for African countries that discriminate against gays and lesbians, and advocates fear that could impact HIV/AIDS work. However, while the US and UK governments have issued statements saying they are watching the bill closely, neither commented on how that outreach could be affected were the bill to pass the House and be signed into law by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.

Such a law would not affect state-funded HIV programs, said Onyebuchi Chukwu, Nigeria's health minister. The ministry has no programs specifically targeting gays and lesbians, said spokesperson Rekia Zubairu.

An estimated 80 percent of HIV infections in Nigeria are acquired heterosexually, according to new data from the country's National Agency for the Control of AIDS.