While addressing an AIDS conference in Georgetown, Guyana, the U.N. Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS, Sir George Alleyne, called on the Caribbean region to decriminalize homosexuality in order to expand HIV testing and treatment, the Guyana Times reports.

According to the article, Alleyne said that HIV-positive or potentially HIV-positive men avoid testing because current laws criminalize men who have sex with men (MSM). He also pointed out that rights and freedoms for homosexual people in the region continue to attract tension between its religious and secular communities.

At the conference, representatives from local and international faith-based organizations cemented their pact with the health sector to step up the fight against HIV, stigma and discrimination found in their respective faiths.

When asked for comment regarding the U.N.'s request, the Guyana Health Minister Leslie Ramsammyhe told the Guyana Times that the issue is relevant and that discussion is now under way about lifting laws criminalizing homosexual sex.