December 10, 2012 | by Michael K. Lavers
LGBT group hopes to open Paraguay’s first men’s health clinic

SOMOSGAY, Paraguay, gay news, Washington Blade

Somosgay plans to open Paraguay’s first HIV/AIDS clinic for gay and bisexual men in May. (Photo courtesy of Simón Cazal/Somosgay)

A Paraguayan LGBT advocacy organization hopes to open the South American country’s first men’s health clinic in May.

Somosgay hopes to offer free rapid HIV/AIDS testing to those who access services at the clinic that will be called Kuimba’e, which means men in the local Guaraní language, in Asunción, the country’s capital. Simón Cazal, the group’s chief executive officer, told the Washington Blade during an interview on Monday that he plans to invite proctologists and specialists in anal and rectal health to work in the facility.

“This initiative from Somosgay will establish a community clinic that will specialize in men’s health and well-being,” Somosgay said in a Nov. 26 press release. “The doors of this clinic will open in 2013 in the center of Asunción. In addition to this project, the initiative plans to further expand voluntary testing and access to anti-HIV treatment in Paraguay through specific campaigns aimed at the entire population.”

Somosgay, which operates an LGBT community center in Asunción, in May opened the capital’s first HIV testing center with support from amfAR and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in the Southern Cone of South America that includes Paraguay, neighboring Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and portions of southern Brazil. The group also participated in a series of events ahead of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.

One of the poorest countries in South America, Paraguay has limited resources to combat HIV/AIDS among groups disproportionately affected by the epidemic.

Cazal, who attended the International AIDS Conference that took place in D.C. earlier this year with his husband Sergio López, whom he married in Argentina after same-sex marriage became legal in 2010, said 19 percent of gay men and 29 percent of transgender women in the country live with HIV. Cazal noted Paraguayan public health officials offered only 80,000 HIV tests — 72,000 to pregnant women and 8,000 to men and trans women — last year.

The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, amfAR and the Fundación Triángulo (Triangle Foundation) in Spain are among the organizations backing the Somosgay clinic.

“Our dream is that the clinic will us in order that we will not see more AIDS cases,” Cazal told the Blade. “The idea behind the clinic is to keep our people as healthy as possible for as long as possible… and to have a big impact in a short time on the quality of life of our friends who live with HIV in the city and in the country.”

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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