During the eighth-annual General Meeting of the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS, regional health officials called for an end to the region's “Buggery Act”—which criminalizes male-on-male sexual contact—saying that the law reinforces HIV stigma and makes it more difficult to fight the spread of the virus among men who have sex with men (MSM), the Antigua Sun reports.

“This is important because when people see themselves as excluded or discriminated against and stigmatized, it promotes risky behavior,” said Peter Figueroa, MD, the head of epidemiology and AIDS at the Ministry of Health in Jamaica. “By removing the Buggery Act and sending a clear signal to the community that they are included in the society, it helps promote personal responsibility for safe sex.”

According to the article, Caribbean countries are among 85 that have laws against male homosexual sex. It is punishable by death in seven of them—none of which are in the Caribbean—and by imprisonment in 76 others.