May 17 marks the 8th International Day Against Homophobia . As a gay man, this day allows me to reflect on the effect of homophobia and the way it intersects with HIV/AIDS.
I want to remember that the impact of homophobia can lead to HIV risk-taking behaviors. Homophobia may keep people from getting information about HIV, and it may keep them from getting tested, or seeking the treatment and support services they need.
I want to remember David Kato, a Ugandan LGBT activist, who knew the cost of homophobia and its impact on HIV/AIDS. I encourage you to learn about Mr. Kato, who was murdered in January 2011. He was honored in a post by Ambassador Eric Goosby, who noted: “PEPFAR is working to ensure that all people in Uganda, including the LGBT community, benefit from a public health- and human rights-based response to HIV.”
At AIDS.gov, we are taking action to support efforts against homophobia. In a past post, we profiled the ‘It Gets Better’ project, a national campaign encouraging LGBT youth, who may experience homophobia in the form of discrimination and bullying, to hold on to hope for a better future. We also recently reported on highlights from the National Transgender Health Summit, where participants discussed the particular impact of stigma on the transgender community and how to address it.
Secretary Clinton has also issued a statement on the day, which you can read here.
The International Day Against Homophobia website contains resource information. We can work together to end homophobia. Speak out! Share with us how you are working to end homophobia on May 17 and every day.