‘It’s as if we don’t exist!’ laments Brenda, 23, who is a lesbian living with HIV. ‘There’s no data or specialized HIV programs that address lesbians which has led to our receiving poor HIV health care services.’
On World AIDS Day (1 December), take a moment to consider this fact: currently there are five million young people (15 to 24) living with HIV, the majority of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa.
But so far, the global response to HIV has largely neglected young marginalized populations – including those from sexual minorities, as well as those who sell sex or inject drugs.
In Kenya, health workers are often particularly insensitive and ill-equipped to serve lesbians, lacking the knowledge on how to prevent HIV transmission between two women.
‘We are told that women cannot infect each other and sometimes they even ask us about our male sexual partners,’ Brenda adds.
‘Unfortunately our society defines us and our roles from the day we are born and we are raised to actively live up to those roles or face being ostracized,’ says Brenda…