No medicine, no food: Coronavirus restrictions amplify health risks to LGBT+ people with HIV

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05/22/2020

It started with headaches then came nausea and diarrhea. Within two weeks, gay Ugandan barber Eric had became so weak without his HIV medication he could not walk and had to be hospitalised. “I was in the hospital for a week and four days. I nearly lost my life,” said Eric, 26, by phone from his village in Ntungamo district in western Uganda. “The doctor told me that I shouldn’t have stopped taking my HIV medicines, but it wasn’t my choice. There is no transport available because of the lockdown and I couldn’t walk the 20 km (12 miles) to the clinic to get my refills”. Lockdowns globally are preventing some LGBT+ people with HIV from getting the life-saving treatment they need – and potentially putting their compromised immune systems at risk if they contract COVID-19, according to HIV/AIDS organisations. From Uganda, Kenya and Mozambique to Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan and Trinidad and Tobago, rights groups report hearing of sexual minorities forced off treatment due to stay at home orders despite some government and NGO efforts to try to help them.

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