Help Refugees and People in Health Crises


Anti-LGBTQIA+ Policies Undermining HIV Response in Africa

As Pride celebrations take place around the globe this month, discriminatory laws targeting the LGBTQIA+ community are on the rise across Africa. In over 30 African countries, consensual same-sex relations remain illegal, frequently policed and punished with imprisonment or fines. This entrenched marginalization deters many LGBTQIA+ Africans from seeking HIV services including testing, prevention methods like condoms, life-saving antiretroviral treatment, and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – an HIV medicine taken to reduce the chances of contracting HIV. However, some progress has been made in countries like Namibia, where the high court recently overturned a law that criminalized sex between men. Dismantling discriminatory laws is a crucial step toward ensuring everyone can safely access health care, including HIV testing and treatment. 

Last year, Uganda passed the Anti-Homosexuality Act, further criminalizing same-sex partnerships. In Kenya, parliament introduced the Family Protection Bill that would prohibit consensual same-sex sexual conduct, same-sex marriage, and related activities. In Ghana, parliament passed a new bill that would sentence people identifying as LGBTQIA+ up to three years in prison. 

Public health experts warn that an effective response to Africa’s HIV crisis is impossible without reaching all groups vulnerable to contracting HIV with comprehensive education, prevention, testing, and treatment programs. However, the threat of discrimination, violence, and incarceration means many LGBTQIA+ people remain isolated from these critical services. 

Steven Neri, Project HOPE’s Regional Director for Africa, said:  

“Anti-LGBTQIA+ laws exacerbate and normalize societal stigma, creating an atmosphere of fear that prevents at-risk individuals from accessing life-saving HIV testing, prevention, and treatment services. In the late 90’s up until ART was broadly available, we saw that stigma prevented people from accessing HIV services. In many African countries, HIV services are accessible and seeking them is normalized. However, creating legal barriers that stigmatize those in need of services causes us to backslide. These policies are fueling the HIV epidemic rather than containing it.  

While much progress has been made toward mitigating HIV and AIDS, we cannot hope to end the epidemic in Africa unless we fully embrace human rights and provide stigma-free services for all, including LGBTQIA+ communities. Access to evidence-based HIV services are quite literally a matter of life and death.” 

Project HOPE has operated HIV-related projects in Africa since 1992 starting in Malawi and later expanding to other countries. Through the years, we have collaborated with local governments and healthcare professionals, to educate communities, provide HIV testing and treatment, and reduce stigma.  

In the face of these harsh anti-LGBTQIA+ policies, Project HOPE remains committed to providing access to medical and mental health care to all individuals, treating everyone with dignity and respect, irrespective of their gender identity or sexual orientation. We believe that everyone deserves hope, and that health is a fundamental human right that should be accessible to all.  


Give with confidence.

Please make a compassionate gift today to help save lives around the world. Your support means more children and families can get the vital medicines and care they need now — and that health workers will have the training and support they need to save lives for years to come.

Donation type
Donation amount, one time
Donation amount, monthly
Donation amount, other
Charity Navigator Logo Charity Watch Logo Guidestar Candid Platinum Transparency Logo Better Business Bureau Logo

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By clicking “Accept”, you consent to us using data collected from the cookies on our website. To learn more, check out our privacy policy.