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Namibia Law Banning Male-to-Male Sex Is Hindering Condom Distribution, HIV Prevention in Prisons, Advocates Say

January 6, 2006

A 30-year-old law in Namibia banning male-to-male sex is preventing condom distribution in the country's prisons and hindering HIV prevention efforts, according to HIV/AIDS advocates, South Africa's Mail & Guardian reports. According to government officials, condom distribution would promote sex between men, which is outlawed under the 1977 Criminal Procedures Act. Ignatius Mainga, a spokesperson for the country's Ministry of Safety and Security's prison services, said, "By giving (prisoners) a condom, you are telling them to go ahead and do it." Mainga added that the "majority" of cases involving men who have sex with men in prison are consensual and that inmates do not want condoms because they do not "want to be seen as having sex with other men." However, Michaela Hubscle, former deputy minister at the now-closed Ministry of Prisons and Correctional Services, said instances of rape still occur between men in prison and condoms are needed to protect inmates. "We are sitting on a time bomb. The prevalence rate will increase if we do not protect those who enter prison (HIV-)negative and those who are positive from reinfection," Hubscle said (Tibinyane, Mail & Guardian, 1/4).

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