LGBT NGO calls on UN to give out free condoms on World AIDS day
ANKARA – Hürriyet
According to the Health Ministry, there are 6,800 HIV patients in Turkey, but all experts anbd activists agree that the statistics are far from reflecting the reality. AFP photoAn NGO has applied to the United Nations for the distribution of free condoms during the upcoming World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, arguing that Turkey’s Health Ministry has stopped making them available. The chairman of the Pink Life LGBT Solidarity Association Buse Kılıçkaya, who filed the application, said that such assistance would especially relieve sex workers in Turkey, who desperately needed to be provided with contraceptives.
Noting that part of a $3,9 million dollar U.N. donation in 2006 had been given to associations for AIDS prevention works, Kılıçkaya said this year’s application had been rejected as no budget in this area had been foreseen.
“[In 2006] we received a great number of condoms. These were distributed to associations. At that period, sex workers who faced the risk of HIV transmission were particularly relieved,” Kılıçkaya said.
Health Ministry officials told daily Hürriyet that anyone could get free condoms at their family doctors and association could foreseeably ask for a mass delivery. However, the head of the Red Umbrella Association, which deals with sexual health from a human rights perspective, criticized the ministry’s attitude, adding that many sex workers were treated badly at health institutions. “We have applied the Public Health Agency three times, but we could not hold a meeting. They don’t want to take us as interlocutors. They reply to our applications saying that they would feel as if they were legitimizing prostitution if they distributed free contraceptives,” Kemal Ördek told daily Hürriyet.
“This is exposing sex workers to death,” he added.
According to official statistics, there are 6,800 HIV patients in Turkey, 1,096 of whom have been diagnosed with AIDS. However, many experts argue that the number is much inferior in comparison with most of the countries where serious public AIDS prevention campaigns have been launched.
UNAIDS Turkey representative Ela Aktürkoğlu said that according to estimations there were at least 20,000 people infected with HIV. Experts also warned that the failure to properly diagnose the disease was a factor that increased risks of transmission and resulted in a lack of social awareness.