SOUTH Africa became the first country in the world to launch a national lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) HIV plan at the 8th Southern African Aids Conference in Durban recently. The South African National Aids Council (Sanac) deputy chairperson Steve Letsike said the programme would provide “tailor-made” health services for the LGBTI community who were previously marginalised due to discrimination by health care professionals.“The LGBTI HIV plan is of paramount importance as it ensures that nobody gets left behind as South Africa, through the Department of Health, continues its fight to combat HIV,” she said.Letsike said the plan aimed to reduce HIV by 63%, STIs by 70% and TB by 30%.Trainer and Health Officer at Out, an organisation focusing on the rights and well-being of LGBTI, Jay Judah Matlou said the plan was a step in the right direction.“The biggest misconception we face is that being LGBTI is un-African. It is often fuelled by deep factors such as culture and religion which strengthen the myth that being LGBTI is choice and abnormal. “These notions get internalised by service providers in the health sector who project them onto the LGBTI community,” said Matlou. “There are cases of LGBTI people being denied services and some delay seeking treatment because of the fear of being shamed for being LGBTI,” he said.