Governments still don't know if gay people take HIV tests.

Published: May 27, 2011

Cape Town, South Africa – Governments worldwide continue to neglect the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people with regards to HIV counselling and testing (HCT). AIDS Accountability International today released the first part of a year-long study on the response of governments to the needs of LGBT people with regard to HIV and AIDS and the research indicates the following findings:

• Of the 192 countries that report to UNAIDS only 81 countries reported HCT figures for men who have sex with men (MSM) in 2010.
• Brazil was the only country that discussed HIV counselling and testing for WSW.
• Only 17 countries reported data on male sex workers.

Governments are required to “Know their epidemic: Know your response” yet many countries do not acknowledge the need for knowing what percentage of LGBT have been tested in the past year, thus making them more vulnerable.

Phillipa Tucker, Senior Researcher at AIDS Accountability International’s Cape Town office says: “This is not an unexpected finding, but if governments don’t correctly monitor and evaluate their epidemics they will make mistakes in their policy, implementation and impact and that is very much what we are seeing is happening for LGBT people.”

This element report can conclude that the following issues remain problematic:

• Low-level response on reporting on HCT for MSM and MSW: To date there has been an insufficient response to collecting data on whether MSM and MSW have undergone HCT globally. Far too many countries have failed to report data on the existing MSM and MSW indicator for testing.
• Inadequate attention to quality of data: Those countries that do report data on MSM and MSW testing uptake need to upscale data collection methods, sample sizes, geographic coverage and various other methodological issues to be able to effectively use the data that is reported.
• There is a lack of lack of indicators in global Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) that apply to WSW & transgender people: The lack of information on testing amongst WSW and transgender men and women reflects the widespread neglect of this group of individuals. This situation is unacceptable and it demands attention by stakeholders that have decisive influence over the response to HIV and AIDS at national and global levels.
• Widespread and acute stigma and discrimination create barriers to uptake of testing for LGBTs: Both UNGASS data and anecdotal evidence, combined with high sero-prevalence rates indicate a need for governments to remove legal, social and other barriers to LGBT people in accessing testing.

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Further information
AIDS Accountability International (AAI) is an independent non-profit organization that was established to increase accountability and inspire bolder leadership in the response to the AIDS epidemic. The research unit’s hope is that by conducting this unique, year-long study, that they will be able to provide evidence based research to human rights activists around the world so that they will be better able to hold leaders accountable and so demand change from their governments. The research examines key HIV statistics, the legal environment, the health care environment as well as the role and position of civil society organizations working on LGBT issues.

Accountability is the ability to influence good performance of governments in the face of the HIV epidemic. It is a tool that community leaders, human rights activists, parliamentarians, international aid agencies and even bureaucrats can use to get their governments to create policy, roll out implementation and monitor impact of HIV and AIDS in a country to the best of their ability.

The LGBT Scorecard is a project which analyses health data from UNAIDS as well as from  AAI’s own surveys in order to highlight problems with regards to HIV and AIDS that are being faced by people who are lesbian, gay, transgender, intersex and/or queer (LGBTIQ). More data and advocacy tools will be released in 2011. Consult our website http://aidsaccountability.org or join the mailing list to get more information by contacting Phillipa Tucker.

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