AMSHeR Launches a Technical Note on Human Rights Approach to HIV Programming for MSM

Published: May 21, 2012

[Johannesburg] – In commemoration of this year’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), the African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR) has launched a Technical Note, ‘No response without rights: The need for a human rights approach to HIV programmes aimed at men who have sex with men in Africa.’ The Technical Note is designed to serve as a resource for agencies, organisations and individuals working to improve policy, legislation and programming related to the sexual and reproductive health of men who have sex with men.
 Homophobia and transphobia remain widespread in Africa. Prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex [LGBTI] persons often forms the basis of the denial of some of their most basic human rights. One of the most glaring manifestation of this is in regard to the access to healthcare services particularly HIV prevention, care and treatment services. Men who have sex with men (MSM) continue to bear a disproportionate brunt of the HIV epidemic. Despite international consensus that the full realization of the human rights and fundamental freedoms is an essential element of the HIV response and programming, there still remain lack of clarity among governments and civil society on the application of the human rights approach to HIV programming for MSM. “The Technical Note focuses on the importance of applying international human rights standards to the HIV response and provides key indicators for evaluating HIV interventions within the MSM communities,” says Joel Nana, AMSHeR’s executive director.
Every year, organisations and individuals around the world mark 17 May as the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) through activities and events that raise awareness of the stigma, discrimination and violence that many persons around the world are subjected to on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity, and call for an end to this. This year AMSHeR joins the rest of the world to call for an end to homophobia and transphobia and the human rights violations that these engender including the denial of access to the highest attainable standard of health as guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.
According to Brian White, AMSHeR’s health programme manager,  “HIV prevention, care and treatment service must happen within a framework that upholds the dignity of MSM and protects them from all forms of human rights abuse and discrimination.”

Sheila Tlou, regional director for UNAIDS regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa believes that, “to be effective in the AIDS response we need to address the needs of the millions of Africans who because of fear, prejudice, entrenched legal, cultural and social values and norms, do not have access to HIV services or cannot live full and dignified lives.”

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