U.K. Minister for International Development To Criticize Reggae Musicians for Lyrics That Might Increase HIV/AIDS Stigma
U.K. Minister for International Development Gareth Thomas on Monday was scheduled to give a speech in St. Kitts criticizing reggae musicians whose "homophobic" lyrics might increase stigma against HIV-positive people in the Caribbean and the United Kingdom and cause some people to avoid being tested for the disease, London's Guardian reports. Thomas was expected to focus his comments on such reggae musicians as Buju Banton, who has allegedly incited people to murder men who have sex with men, and Sizzla, who in 2002 told a Chicago audience that he kills "sodomites and queers, they bring AIDS ... upon people," according to the Guardian. "A number of artists are effectively contributing to the spread of HIV by producing reggae and rap songs actually encouraging discrimination against those who have AIDS and encouraging violence against minority groups such as men who have sex with men," Thomas said, adding, "I believe in free speech, but nobody in a democracy should be able to incite violence against minorities." Although heterosexual sex is the "chief mode of transmission" for HIV in the Caribbean, the disease is associated with MSM in many Caribbean communities, causing some people to avoid being tested, Thomas said, according to the Guardian. The British HIV/AIDS advocacy group Terrence Higgins Trust estimates that two-thirds of HIV-positive black Caribbean MSM who live in the United Kingdom do not know they are infected, according to the Guardian. The Caribbean's estimated HIV prevalence of 2.3% is the second highest of any region in the world (Boseley, Guardian, 11/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.