HIV/AIDS continues to tear through Kenya and shows no signs of slowing down, especially in prisons. Experts warn Kenya’s anti-gay laws are inadvertently spreading HIV amongst Kenya’s criminals.
Considering the fact that conjugal visits remain illegal, many prisoners – even “straight” men – turn to gay sex to get their kicks. The African nation’s ban on sodomy, however, hinders AIDS education.
Kenya Prison Service’s Mary Chepkong’a says:
We know homosexuality exists in the prisons, but our hands are tied because of the illegal nature of sodomy under our laws. Because of the law, we cannot provide them with condoms to ensure they can protect themselves.
Anti-gay laws aren’t simply prohibiting prison officials from discussing safe sex. The resultant cultural shame silences condom-seeking prisoners, thus perpetuating the plague.
After looking at HIV in 13 prisons, the National AIDS Crisis Council recommends the Kenyan government give its policies another look: “The creation of effective HIV prison prevention programs are dependent on establishing the existence and understanding the nature and prevalence of ‘prison sex’.” This isn’t the first time the Kenyan government’s homophobic laws have been said to hurt AIDS education. The NACC released a study last month suggesting the government change course or face more needless deaths.