Men having sex with men (MSM) will for the first time have drop-in health centres targetted at addressing their needs.
This was revealed by the National Aids Council (NAC) Monitoring and Evaluation director, Amon Mpofu, who said the institution is set to establish five health centres around the country.
The health centres will be in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and Kwekwe.
“The clinics will be called Men Health Centres so that even other men who will also want to seek medical services can be assisted,” Mpofu told journalists Friday at a media editors workshop in Kadoma.
“Because of their sexual orientation and the challenges they have been facing in accessing medical services, the Men’s Health Centres will greatly improve the health of MSMs.”
The move has been described by Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) as progressive.
Information from NAC says unprotected heterosexual sex continues to be the main transmission route for HIV new infections and the ‘illegal’ nature of homosexuality in the country presented huge barriers for men who have sex with men from accessing HIV related services. as a result, there was a high HIV prevalence rate among gays.
“We are trying to help the minority community so that they can access medical services after realising that they have been discriminated against,” Mpofu said.
“This is part of our programming in the first against the spread of HIV and Aids, as we go towards having a new zero HIV infections.”
He added, “Here they will be able to discuss their health related issues, peer education and pick condoms among other issues that affect them daily.”
GALZ director Chester Samba said they were working together with NAC on the pilot project.
“The drop-in centres will provide space for the community to access services in a non-discriminatory space,” he said.
“The space will provide a platform for communities to learn, access information, services such as health, legal and psychosocial support and a social space for communities to interact.”
Recently the GALZ executive met ruling party Zanu PF officials to hear their position ahead of the 2018 polls after former leader Robert Mugabe had pursued tough approach towards gays.
The meeting has since been described as successful with GALZ also describing President Emmerson Mnangagwa as more “engaging’” than both the opposition and his predecessor.