|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
The realisation that specific population groups are more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS has prompted the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences together with the University of Oslo to host the HIV and most at risk populations (MARPS) short course in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on 18-29 October 2010, to create awareness about HIV infections amongst vulnerable groups.
According to organisers, the aim of the course is to provide participants with insight into and knowledge about the lives and circumstances of Men who have sex with Men (MSM) and injecting drug users (IDU) in Africa, the challenges posed by HIV among them, and approaches to intervention strategies for HIV prevention and care.”
The short course is scheduled to unravel topics such as same sex attractions, practices, risks, vulnerabilities and approaches to HIV programming that includes and involves MSM and IDU amongst others.
Isabela Sophia, an activist from Tanzania, who will also be participating in the course said the situation regarding LGTBI people has not changed that much.
“There is still a lot of hostility from both the community and the government and that has made life difficult for most LGBTI people and I think initiatives such as these are important in order to educate society, and to possibly erase stigmatisation and discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI ) people in Tanzania.”
Same sex sexual activities are illegal under the Penal Code, Act 1945 and punishable by life imprisonment. Sophia added that the harsh treatment towards homosexuals from authorities has also contributed to lack of LGBTI visibility in Tanzania.
“The response from government has been negative and this has made things on the ground difficult, for instance there have been arbitrary arrests, but people don’t want to talk about these arrests for documentation, for fear of being rearrested”, she said.
Sophia further explained that there have not been many initiatives put in place to respond to HIV/AIDS simply because of stigma that still exist.
“But last year the gay community organised some events and conducted some documentation on infection amongst MSM but it has been difficult since most organisations operate under ground. But we have since decided to form a coalition that will merge all LGBTI organisations so that the work we do is more visible and accessible”, she said.
The final application deadline to partake in the short course is 01 September 2010. For more details on the course contact course director on, firstname.lastname@example.org