The anti-gay obsession in the landlocked southern African nation of Zambia is worsening its HIV epidemic.

Zambia has become “one of the world’s most devastating HIV and AIDS epidemics,” reports the advocacy group AVERT:

“More than one in every seven adults in the country is living with HIVand life expectancy at birth has fallen to just 49 years. … Overall HIV prevalence was 13.5 percent [and] has been reported as high as 25 percent in some urban areas. … Unlike in some countries, HIV in Zambia does not primarily affect the most underprivileged. Infection rates are very high among wealthier people and the better educated.”

Rod McCullom, writing for the The Atlantic, notes Zambia is one of Africa’s most hostile political climates against consensual adult same-sex acts and that may be leading to the devastating HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country: 

Zambia is a devoutly Christian nation. Evangelical and Pentecostal denominations have exploded on the continent–particularly in Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia. Churches across Africa have opposed condom use and distribution . Some Zambian government officials have even publicly criticized condom use. “I don’t believe in condoms because it is a sign of weak morals on the part of the user,” former President Frederick Chiluba infamously said in 2001.

Some pastors have gone even further. “A trend is emerging in southern Zambia of preachers claiming to be able to cure HIV/AIDS and telling followers to stop taking medication to prove their faith,” Think Africa Press reported this week. This new trend is particularly worrisome because only an estimated seven out of 10 people in Zambia needing antiretroviral treatment have access to the life-saving meds.

South Africa is the only African nation that offers legal protections for gays and same-sex marriage.

Read McCullom’s full story at