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Nigeria's Antigay Law Thwarts HIV Prevention Efforts

Nigeria's Antigay Law Thwarts HIV Prevention Efforts

A harsh antigay law that took effect in January in Nigeria has already had a dire impact on the availability of HIV and AIDS treatment and prevention services in the west African nation, U.K. LGBT site PinkNews reports.

Prevention and treatment outreach efforts have decreased by as much as 70 percent in some Nigerian states, according to a survey conducted by the Initiative for Equal Rights, and reported by the blog Erasing 76 Crimes.

The law, which prescribes lengthy jail terms for anyone who is part of a same-sex marriage, has already prompted hospitals to "routinely" turn away gay Nigerians, while other LGBT and HIV-positive Nigerians simply avoid going to government-run health care facilities because they fear being outed and endangered by "unsympathetic" health care practitioners, according to The Economist.

The international community, including United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and British Foreign Secretary William Hague, have all criticized Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan for signing the law, which not only bans same-sex marriage, but also provides up to 14-year prison sentences for people who enter into same-sex unions. The law even bans people from gathering in gay clubs, according to the PinkNews report.

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