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LBGTI hate in Indonesia makes it hard to treat and test for HIV

The rising tide of hate against LGBTI people in Indonesia might be having an impact on the country’s ability to respond to HIV.

The head on UNAIDS Indonesia confirmed it has been harder than ever to access at risk groups in recent months.

‘Yes the recent change has made it more challenging than ever to create an enabling environment within which HIV and AIDS program efforts can thrive and move in accelerated pace,’ Krittayawan Tina Boonto told Gay Star News.

Indonesia’s LGBTI community has faced unprecedented levels of discrimination and attacks in the past two years. Targeting gay parties and trans facilities and parties have become more common recently.

The police in West Java even admitted to starting a taskforce to ‘monitor’ LGBTI people, simply because of their sexual and/or gender identity.

A consequence of the persecution has been a difficulty in accessing at risk communities to provide HIV testing and treatment. The at risk groups include, men who have sex with men (MSM), sex workers and injecting drug users.

Boonto explained there were a number of reasons that caused this difficulty.

‘The Ministry of Social Affairs has declared a nationwide crackdown and closure of sex trade zones (lokalisasi),’ she said.

‘The appearance of an anti-LGTB movement in 2016 has already impaired the implementation of some interventions (edutainment outreach activities).

‘The government has banned programs on mass media featuring LGBT talent and some media channels of interest to LGBT having been blocked.

‘War against drugs continues to impact drug users, with reports that authorities have conducted raids and arrests in private homes.’

Societal change

Indonesia is one of 10 countries in the Asia Pacific that has 95% of new HIV cases every year. And while there hasn’t been a decrease in testing rates in Indonesia, there hasn’t been the projected growth in testing as had been anticipated.

‘The recent societal change may have contributed to the less ambitious acceleration of HIV testing uptake among key population groups,’ Boonto said.

‘Health facility-based services continue to provide services related to HIV prevention, care and treatment. HIV testing outreach and testing services continue to be provided without hindrance.

‘However, prevention outreach to promote safe practices may have been impacted by the recent societal change as outreach workers and beneficiaries alike becomes more cautious carrying condom/lubricants and or clean needles with them.’

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