Delivered by Humphrey Ndondo, NGO Africa
Thank you, Chair.
My name is Humphrey, Ndondo. I am a black gay man from Zimbabwe. I am also a public health practitioner.
I wish to share what I have seen, what I have heard and what I know so that you also know!
I feel particularly moved to contribute to this conversation because I am from a community that is in bed with TB and HIV; not by choice but by circumstances that are our daily lived realities.
Our communities of gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men, trans diverse persons, sex workers, and people who use drugs are seen as bad people, filthy, immoral, delinquents in society. We continue to be criminalized, stigmatized, marginalized and left behind.
I am deeply concerned about the response to TB and HIV among key populations particularly persons in closed settings, prisons, detention centers and refugee camps. In most of our countries the treatment of persons in holding facilities, detention and those incarcerated is deplorable to say the least, characterized by austere, inhumane and degrading treatment. The infrastructure in these facilities is often poor, under ventilated, over- crowded and conducive to breed, fester, and spread infections. In these facilities, we are perpetually under nourished and starved. We are isolated, lonely, depressed and suicidal. We have NO access to psychosocial support save for gardening projects that are part of our sentence and hard labour- our voices are often silenced
Even in death, our dignity is violated, our bodies are not respected and we die emaciated, malnourished, with a concoction of viruses and bacteria coursing our bodies. Our bodies are left to rot for days while waiting for our relatives to collect and bury us.
Our lives matter.
In conclusion, this narrative of how we are disproportionately affected by TB and HIV is not new. You all know, because we have told you so over the past decade!
Just in the 41st PCB Meeting, we presented a report on addressing HIV in prisons and closed settings and made bold recommendations for review of legislation to decriminalize and de- stigmatize key affected populations and create an enabling legal and policy environment for ALL.
We are NOT bad people – we are subject to bad laws and these bad laws are killing us!
Our lives matter.