“About 30 million people have died; about 1.8 million people die every year from HIV/AIDS,” according to World Health Organization 2011 report.
Citing from a remark of the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in addressing the lack of HIV services for marginalized groups, including men who have sex with men (MSM) in this global epidemic, “Not only is it unethical not to protect these groups; it makes no sense from a health perspective. It hurts us all,“May I expand and re-tailored a relevant meaning of it in the following:
- Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that Philippines has majority number of Christians. Ninety-three percent of them eat the entire total population of 93.3 million Filipinos. Not only that, all over Asia, Philippines still on top and ranked 5th all over the world. 
- Philippines is a democratic and a republican state;  the 1987 Philippine Constitution acts as the country’s supreme law of the land, whereby all laws passed shall not be inimical to its principles and aspirations upholding a government of laws not of men.
Now, may I simply put it this way: “Not only is it unethical for the Church and for those men of honor to denounce lesbians, gays, and transgenders (LGBT) perspectives immoral and to curtail the equal protection of the law and abridge the basic human rights; it makes no sense from a biblical perspective, where all children are equal in the eyes of God, and from a legal perspective, where all men are created equal. It degrades the Church from deviating it just because of canons and dogmas made only by men, and it penalizes the state from denying it just because of a human perception and prejudice.”
HIV/AIDS and its alarming identity
Throughout the global journey of this alarming crisis, significant, high levels of Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection (HIV) have been found among men who have sex with men (MSM) in many countries.
Historically, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was first discovered among self-identified young homosexual men in the United States of America.
Based on Progress Report 2011, an estimated 2.7 million people around the world were newly-infected with HIV in 2010, and it is alarming that an estimated 390,000 of it were children. Furthermore, despite diligent implementation of HIV programmes and worldwide funding from member states, new HIV infections are significantly on the rise in the regions of Middle East and North Africa.
According to the Joint United Nations Programme on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome’s (UNAIDS) Investment Framework the current annual international funding for HIV programmes fell last year and was estimated to be only 67% of the US$24 billion maximum needed annual fund by 2015 to sustain an effective, comprehensive response to the crisis.
World Health Organization (WHO) has been working with member states in optimizing HIV programmes such as treatment, prevention and diagnostics, and finding ways for integration and efficiencies of the said programmes.
Progress Report 2011 disclosed that sub-Saharan Africa (comprises of Botswana, Namibia, Rwanda, Swaziland, and Zambia) has nearly 68% of people with HIV all over the world and 59% of it are women. This marks Africa as the capital region of HIV infected people in the world.
However, in the other side of the world, Asia has about 4.8 million people with HIV; about 2.3 million of it came from India – the capital region of HIV infected people around Asia.
In the Philippines, according to bulatlat.com, “On December 2010 alone, 174 new cases [of HIV infections] were reported, representing a 38-percent increase compared to the same month in 2009….” (Philippines among 7 countries with steady increase in HIV infections by Ace Alegre, bulatlat.com)
How Does It Become Prevalent?
The underlying question behind making this crisis prevalent is based on several factors that maybe independent or intertwining with each other such as the aspect of behavioural, biological, or social and cultural. These aspects are general perspectives in looking into the answers of the question.
In the article, HIV, AIDS and Men Who Have Sex with Men,  the above aspects are considered why HIV became prevalent in MSM. While it specifies only to MSM in that article, I will be presenting this in general.
The article disclosed that in an incident that an individual (another man) has sexually transmitted infection (STI) and engaged in unprotected sex, this can lead to a biological factor that increases the risk of becoming infected with HIV. In the aspect of behavioural, the article probed that certain behaviour increases the risk of becoming infected with HIV such as having multiple sex partners, not using condom regularly, taking alcohol or drugs, and being complacent towards safer sex. In social and cultural aspect, the article insisted that societies or governments that are denial about MSM and in the societies where it becomes a taboo subject in their cultures these may lead as significant factor contributing the rise of HIV infected individuals. In addition, in countries where sex is commercial, transgender or female sex workers may find difficult to convince their clients to use condoms thereby increasing the risk of becoming infected with HIV.
How do laws mitigate the alarming HIV prevalence?
Studies probed and generally concluded that the rise of HIV infections in a certain region was prevalent in men who have sex with men. The most alarming was that those MSM in low-income and middle-income countries have sufficient or correct knowledge about HIV. Later on their life, in worst case, did only they know that AIDS has already developed.
UNAIDS Executive Director Michael Sidiba during the 2009 forum on HIV, Human Rights and Men Who Have Sex with Men remarked : “It remains undeniable fact in all regions of the world – including here in the US – that men who have sex with men lack universal access to HIV services.”
According to the study conducted in the article, HIV, AIDS and Men Who Have Sex with Men : “A major reason for this shortcoming is the fact that many countries have laws banning same sex relations. A 2009 report revealed that same sex relations between consenting adults is a criminal offence in 80 countries. In five of these countries (Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and parts of Nigeria and Somalia), it is punishable by death penalty.” The report further asserts that : “Where such laws are in place, governments are unlikely to promote any sort of HIV interventions aimed at men who have sex with men; groups or individuals who [do] try to carry out such campaigns, as much as men who have sex with men themselves, may face violence or arrest.”
World Health Organization acknowledges the critical role of MSMs on the alarming rise of HIV infections all over the world. In consonance, the World Health Assembly adopted the new Global Health Sector Strategy on HIV/AIDS 2011-2015  with its comprehensive perspectives to eliminating new HIV infections to infants and young people, and reducing AIDS-related death by 50%.
Studies documented that the vast majority of new HIV infections results from unprotected heterosexual intercourse and parent-offspring transmission of infection.
Other studies claimed that the prevalence of HIV infections resulted from government’s denial and constant Church persecutions in recognizing the legitimacy of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. Studies further asserted that by this way, LGBT individuals were forced into hiding themselves and let their vulnerability to that infection remained threatened and uncontrolled.
Also, there were claims that prevalence of HIV in a certain area of regions are manipulated, distorted, and exaggerated, or under-represented. Proponents to that claims are unified by a fact that prevalence of HIV is alarming. However, what they did not concur with is through the objective basis of research because it can not be denied that most respondents are either true to themselves or the opposite. No one can assert the veracity of it.
So, how can we justify the objectivity to be dominant factor in determining the right data?
Other proponents assert that it can not be done unless the government recognizes the imminence of the crisis and the presence of the people infected and to those vulnerable to HIV.
Studies cited India’s decision  in July 2009 that repealed the law criminalizing homosexuality has seen significant development to improving the country’s provision or funding for HIV programmes such as, treatments, prevention, and care for those infected with HIV.
However, this can be questioned based on the Progress Report 2011  that nearly 49% of all people with HIV in Asia were come from India.
Another cited was Kenya , where homosexuality is illegal, HIV prevalence in some areas soared high; in South Africa, where homosexuality is legal, HIV prevalence in some areas was likely quadrupled in general population.
Given these premises, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS is dependent to some other factors outside the premise of recognizing the legitimacy of LGBTs. Indeed, factors such us biological, behavioural, and social or cultural played a crucial role in either mitigating or aggravating the prevalence of HIV/AIDS infection.
In other view, government’s cooperation and initiative to pass laws recognizing LGBTs is undeniably plays as mitigating factor through a legitimate provisioning of HIV programmes where LGBTs and HIV infected individuals into hiding will go out openly without hesitation from persecution and discrimination.
As much as this crisis is as urgent as a global fight, UNAIDS, during December 10, 2011 Human Rights Day,  calls for greater leadership to countries in protecting, promoting, and upholding human rights for all people infected with and vulnerable to HIV.
It must be understood that the only way for a society or a country to achieve serious positive developments in all respects, especially on this issue of gender equality and the fight for HIV, is to have a state that recognizes first the equality of individuals before the law and before human perceptions and prejudices.
In the other side of society, conservative Church may react on it. But for the Church to understand it, they must first adhere to the basic Christian teaching of equality of man before the eyes of God and before anyone else. For at the end of the day, who will judge the living and the dead, and in the context of law, who will go above all else before the law?
- LGBT violence worse than other hate crimes – UN by BC/ELR, GMA News; December 16, 2011. (http://www.gmanetwork.com)
- South Africa: LGBT Rights in Name Only? Human Rights Watch, December 5, 2011. (http://www.hrw.org)
1HIV, AIDS and Men Who Have Sex with Men, 4th par. Avert.org (http://www.avert.org)
2Philippines still top Christian country in Asia, 5th in the world by Lawrence de Guzman, Inquirer Research; AFP. Philippine Daily Inquirer, Wednesday, December 21, 2011. (http://globalnation.inquirer.net)
3Article II of the 1987 Philippine Constitution
4 Key facts on global HIV epidemic and progress in 2010, based on Progress Report 2011: Global HIV /AIDS Response. World Health Organization. (http://www.who.int)
5Ibid., under “Beyond 2011: Treatments gains amid funding uncertainties.”
6HIV, AIDS and Men Who Have Sex with Men; under “What makes men who have sex with men vulnerable to HIV”? Avert.org (http://www.avert.org)
7Ibid., under “Responding to HIV among men who have sex with men: the challenges”; below 2nd par.
8Ibid., 3rd par.
9Ibid., third line, 3rd par.
10 Key facts on global HIV epidemic and progress in 2010, based on Progress Report 2011: Global HIV /AIDS Response; under “Beyond 2011: Treatments gains amid funding uncertainties,” last par. World Health Organization. (http://www.who.int)
11HIV, AIDS and Men Who Have Sex with Men; under “Responding to HIV among men who have sex with men: the challenges”; 7th par. Avert.org (http://www.avert.org)
12 Key facts on HIV epidemic and progress in regions and countries in 2010 based on Progress Report 2011: Global HIV/AIDS Response; under “Asia”, 3rd par. World Health Organization. (http://www.who.int)
13HIV, AIDS and Men Who Have Sex with Men; under “Men who have sex with men and HIV – the global picture”; 3rd par. Avert.org (http://www.avert.org)
14 Press Statement: UNAIDS calls for greater leadership in addressing human rights violations in the AIDS response. Geneva, December 9, 2011. (http://www.unaids.org)
Originally posted on Philippine Review.