The launch of the clinic (Pic: Behind the Mask)

The first-ever sexual health clinic specifically targeting Uganda’s LGBT community has opened in the capital, Kampala.

The service was launched last month by LGBT rights group Ice Breakers Uganda.

The clinic is run by professional health workers who offer confidential care, support and treatment for HIV/Aids and sexually transmitted infections as well as general well-being services.

“LGBTI people often fear to go to hospitals due to stigma. But here (at the clinic) they can easily open up,” Dennis Wamala, an official with Ice Breakers, told Behind the Mask.

The free clinic was launched with a service by Bishop Christopher Senyonjo who recited the prayer of St. Francis and affirmed the right of all people to have equal access to health services.

Men who have sex with men (MSM) are one of the highest at-risk groups for HIV infection in Uganda but they often face discrimination and stigmatisation when attempting to use mainstream health services.

The 2008/2009 Crane Survey in Uganda reported that the HIV prevalence among MSM respondents was 13.7 percent, more than twice the national prevalence of about 6.4 percent.

In recent years, efforts to further criminalise homosexuality though the Anti-Homosexuality Bill have added fuel to anti-gay sentiment in the country.

If the bill is passed, doctors may be forced to disclose their patients’ homosexuality or face being fined or imprisoned.

Gay sex is already illegal in Uganda, with penalties including life-imprisonment.

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