Jamra primary scholl for children affected by HIV/AIDS, drugs or poverty, Senegal (c) Nell Freeman/Alliance Participants in the Photovioce project, Ecuador © Marcela Nievas for the Alliance
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Washington D.C. debate marks Human Rights Day


Aids Alliance

To mark International Human Rights Day the Alliance co-hosted a roundtable discussion in Washington D.C. on human rights, HIV and men who have sex with men (MSM).

The debate, titled ‘The Intersection of Health, Faith, & Policy: A Global and Domestic Roundtable Discussion on Men Who Have Sex with Men’ highlighted a number of key issues including:

  • The disproportionately high impact of HIV among men who have sex with men globally and what is driving this.
  • The fundamental links between public health and human rights.
  • How key elements of society, faith and policy interact, and what role they play in the human and health rights of men who have sex with men.

The discussion was organised by UNAIDS and the MSM Policy Working Group (of which the Alliance is an active member).

Legal barriers

A diverse range of speakers were present including  Dr Cheick Traore (Senior Policy Advisor, Sexual Diversity, of the HIV/ADIS Group of UNDP) who highlighted the UNAIDS Action Framework: Universal Access for MSM and Transgender people and the recently established Global Commission on HIV and Law. The Commission will spend the next 18 months documenting laws that block effective AIDS responses globally. There was also a video address by U.S Congresswoman Lee, who is a member of the Commission.

Such laws were the subject of Enabling legal environments for effective HIV responses, a recent report jointly produced by the Commonwealth HIV&AIDS Action Group, the Alliance and the Commonwealth Foundation.

Copies of the report were distributed at the event alongside the recent AIDSTAR-Two report on men who have sex with men in Eastern Europe.

Gift Trapence (Executive Director of the Centre for the Development of People in Malawi), spoke of the lack of government funding and national HIV policies for men who have sex with men (MSM) in Malawi. He urged donors to support direct funding for MSM projects and underlined the importance of having a political dialogue at a country level.

US Government support

Dr. Rich Needle (Senior Public Health Advisor to PEPFAR, OCAG) expressed the US Government’s support for a human rights based approach in HIV prevention, including for MSM. The PEPFAR guidance on MSM will be released soon and he also mentioned that technical support around creating enabling environments will be an important priority for PEPFAR as well as stronger collaboration on human rights issues with UN agencies and the Global Fund at the country level.

Other speakers included Mr. Justin Goforth (Director of Whitman-Walker’s Community Health Division) and Rev. Dean Snyder (Minister of Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington DC) who looked at challenges MSM face within the US.

The discussion was webcast live and you can read the twitter feed of the from the event here.

International Human Rights Day also saw the launch of an Alliance report on human rights issues facing our linking organisations.

The Alliance’s Elden Chamberlain is speaking at a Management Sciences for Health event in Boston on 15 December to commemorate International Human Rights Day. More details here.