Imagine a Vaccine that prevented Intolerance. Imagine if we could Stop Homophobia and Stop Transphobia. Imagine if we could Help End HIV.
Laurindo Garcia unveiled the Intolerance Vaccine at AIDS2014 as part of a New Research Agenda with the aim of Stepping Up The Pace towards ending HIV. Scientists may be working on a HIV vaccine, but in the meantime all of us should be working towards fighting an epidemic of hate and intolerance that drives HIV infection around the world.
We can all help to end HIV now by educating and ensuring that schools, clinics and workplaces in our communities are more inclusive of transgender people, gay men and other groups affected by HIV. The more open and inclusive society and communities are of key populations, the more public health initiatives that promote HIV testing and treatment are likely to be effective. As long as people feel that they have to hide and feel shame for who they are to doctors, to teachers, to friends and family, people will never come out to voluntarily access the scientific, medical and social benefits of HIV prevention and treatment.
In 81 countries around the world, love between gay man and transpeople is illegal. In the last two years, more homophobic laws have been passed from Uganda, to Nigeria to Russia. Violence and persecution of sexual minorities has risen. Could this epidemic of hate and intolerance be related to the persistent rise of HIV and STI rates among MSM and trans people, as well as the persistent rates of late-stage diagnosis of HIV? The Global Commission on HIV and the Law thinks so. It tells us that public health investment and strategies are undermined by the laws, policies and practices and informed by the intolerance of decision-makers.
Community based organizations around the world are working hard to overturn discriminatory laws and fight stigma against MSM, gay men and transpeople. A variety of tactics are used, such as Documenting the Trans-Experience by Grupo Pela Vidda in Brazil to Speaking Out Advocacy Activities undertaken by MSMGF, to ITPC support of policy advocacy in Pakistan.
Can the results of this work be speeded up with more involvement, dedication and support from all of us?
Laurindo Garcia asks us to ‘Just imagine if the intolerance vaccine were dispensed to every politician, bureaucrat or religious leader on their first day of work.’ How would the world be different?
What can you do to vaccinate your community against intolerance?
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