As new reports reaffirm importance of key populations, Global Forum on MSM & HIV calls for commitment to evidence and human
rights in UN political declaration on AIDS
June 8, 2011 (New York) - As country delegations to the United Nations gather this week to strengthen their
commitment to ending the global HIV epidemic by issuing a new political declaration on AIDS,
the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) calls
for a re-thinking of global AIDS strategy that elevates evidence-based policies, key populations,
and human rights as core pillars of the response.
"Now 30 years into the epidemic, we know that the most effective strategies have been the ones based
on evidence, with research informing their targets and delivery," said Dr. George Ayala, Executive Officer of the
MSMGF. "In many cases, that evidence has called for attention to key populations like gay men, sex workers, people
who inject drugs and transgender people. With more than 33 million people living with HIV and over two million newly
infected every year, we can no longer afford to ignore effective evidence-based approaches in the name of cultural
norms, religious values or penal codes that violate basic human rights."
Two groundbreaking reports released this week reinforce the fact that tailored responses for key populations
are essential to ending the global epidemic. The World Bank published a report today that shows investing in interventions
for men who have sex with men (MSM) improves overall epidemic control in all country contexts included in the study.
Meanwhile, the Lancet published a new model for financing the AIDS response, arguing that population-based
approaches targeting groups at risk represent the most effective and cost-efficient way to bring the epidemic to a halt.
"These reports, taken together, make a clear and extremely well-documented case that the fate of
the global epidemic depends in large part on the way we handle HIV among key populations," said Krista Lauer, Policy
Associate at the MSMGF. "We must respond appropriately to the needs of key populations if we are to have any hope
of reaching our target of zero new infections by 2015."
Key populations represent large portions of regional epidemics, making interventions for these groups an indispensable component of
any comprehensive national response. MSM comprise an estimated 25% of people living with HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean,
while injection drug use is responsible for over 80% of infections in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Sex work has been linked
to 32% of new HIV infections in Ghana, 14% of new infections in Kenya and 10% of new infections in Uganda. And although it
is difficult to find similar data on transgender epidemics, HIV infection rates have been recorded as high as 25%, 35% and
42% among transgender people in El Salvador, Indonesia and India respectively.
"In addressing epidemics among key populations, the evidence argues strongly in favor of an approach founded in human rights," said
Ms. Lauer. "Members of key populations around the world are subject to stigma, discrimination and human rights abuses that undermine their
ability to access essential services. Little progress can be made without addressing these barriers."
HIV strategies based on human rights have been adopted by the World Health Organization, UNAIDS and a number of other UN bodies.
Both of the UN General Assembly's previous consensus declarations on AIDS endorsed human rights as a key feature of successful
"In concrete terms, a human rights approach for key populations means recognizing that there are no excuses
for the denial of internationally recognized human rights," said Dr. Ayala. "It means harm reduction, efforts to
decrease stigma, and the elimination of policies that exclude or discriminate against MSM, sex workers, people who inject
drugs and transgender people. These are not lofty ideals - this is what it will take to end the epidemic, period."
MSMGF leadership and staff have been working with key partners at the High Level Meeting in New York to advocate
for an approach based on these principles. A final outcome document is expected before the close of the meeting on Friday.
The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) is an expanding network of AIDS organizations, MSM networks,
and advocates committed to ensuring robust coverage of and equitable access to effective HIV prevention, care, treatment, and support
services tailored to the needs of gay men and other MSM. Guided by a Steering Committee of 20 members from 18 countries situated
mainly in the Global South, and with administrative and fiscal support from AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), the MSMGF works to
promote MSM health and human rights worldwide through advocacy, information exchange, knowledge production, networking, and
capacity building. www.msmgf.org
"Reproduced with permission - "Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) "
Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF)