The United Nations (UN) and US have warned that Uganda’s progress in tackling HIV is in “grave jeopardy” after the president approved the tough new anti-homosexuality legislation.
In a joint statement, three of the world’s leading health campaign groups – the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar), UNAids, and the Global Fund – have said they are deeply concerned about the harmful impact of the legislation.
The three bodies further note that an increasing number of people are being discouraged from seeking vital health services for fear of attacks and punishment.
They say the law will obstruct health education and the outreach that can help end HIV/AIDs as a public health threat by 2030.
According to the UNAIDs executive director, Winnie Byanyima, Global Fund chief Peter Sands and Ambassador John Nkengasong, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, Trust, confidentiality, and stigma-free engagement are essential for anyone seeking health care.
“Uganda’s progress on its HIV response is now in grave jeopardy. The Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 will obstruct health education and the outreach that can help end AIDS as a public health threat. The stigma and discrimination associated with the passage of the Act has already led to reduced access to prevention as well as treatment services,” the statement reads in part.
They have appealed to the government to reconsider the Act so that Uganda may continue on its path to ensure equitable access to health services.