A diverse group of presenters spoke about the needs of MSM and discussed the policy environment that helps or hinders MSM from accessing vital prevention and care services. Luminaries like Ambassador Dr. Eric Goosby, US Global AIDS Co-ordinator and Dr. Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of UNAIDS joined a panel of passionate advocates from around the world to address a filled Congressional briefing room.
While the speakers came from disparate places (Jamaica, Romania and New York – by way of Mauritania), they spoke with great feeling about the current situation at a global and national level. Homophobia, criminalization, and programming that does not address MSM needs has resulted in HIV prevalence rates that are significantly higher than in the rest of the population – even in generalized epidemics.
Jaevion Nelson representing the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network (JYAN) noted high rates of ignorance and STIs and shockingly low risk perception among MSM. He attributed this to homophobia and a focus on heterosexual transmission.
Tudor Kovacs from PSI Romania described the variety of activities and approaches that that PSI is using in order to recognise and address diversity within the MSM community. He also urged action: ‘Just because we can’t measure impact, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.’
Cheikh Traour?, Senior Advisor for Sexual Diversity at UNDP pointed out that lack of global data on MSM has contributed to a lack of resources for MSM programming (1.2% of all global prevention funds goes to MSM).
Krista Lauer from AIDS Project Los Angeles focused on how US policy makers can contribute to meeting the prevention, care and treatment needs of MSM.
This forum is the first of a three-part series of events organised by UNAIDS and the Alliance to highlight the interaction between human rights, HIV/AIDS, and key populations. Future fora will focus on sex workers and injecting drug users.
For more information on the series, contact Pauline Muchina, Senior Partnership Advisor, UNIADS at firstname.lastname@example.org