For Immediate Release
Groundbreaking Johns Hopkins—World Bank Survey Reveals Devastating Global HIV Epidemic among Gay Men, Global Health Leaders Call for Urgent Action Against Homophobia and Anti-Gay Legislation
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, Global Fund Executive Director Michel Kazatchkine join Research Experts and Activists in Vienna for Day-Long Event Focused on AIDS Crisis among Gay Men
Vienna, Austria (July 17, 2010) – In response to skyrocketing HIV prevalence rates among MSM around the world, global health leaders today called for an end to the human rights abuses against gay men and other men who have sex with men that contribute to HIV vulnerability. The call came at BE HEARD, an all-day conference event hosted by the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) to address soaring global rates of HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM).
The event featured the unveiling of the Johns Hopkins—World Bank’s global survey of HIV epidemics among MSM in the year 2010. The study indicated HIV prevalence rates as high as 21.4% in Malawi, 13.8% in Peru, and 23% in Thailand. The data defines the current state of the HIV epidemic among MSM as characterized by ongoing epidemics in low and middle income countries, resurgent epidemics in high income countries, and the discovery of new epidemics in areas that previously had no data.
“We have gone full circle,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director at UNAIDS, speaking at the opening plenary address. “Our vision of zero AIDS will never see the light unless we end criminalization of people by their sexual orientation.”
The study also showed that higher levels of HIV-related services among MSM would lead to overall declines in the epidemic among the general population. “There has never been such an assemblage of data in the field of MSM and HIV before,” said Stephen Lewis, Co-Director of AIDS-Free World. “By incorporating MSM into the broad treatment network, we are serving the objectives of the entire population. It makes it 10 times harder for those in the realm of MSM to be isolated, marginalized in the response.”
Stigma and discrimination was highlighted by many of the speakers as a key factor in the rapid spread of HIV among MSM. “As long as gay men are a target of hate, arrest, detainment, and service denial, we will never win the fight against AIDS,” said Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, during opening remarks.
The full-day event featured presentations from more than 100 of the world’s top experts on the health and human rights of sexual minorities. With over 500 attendees from more than 80 countries, the event was the largest gathering of its kind. The program highlighted a wide array of the most pressing health and human rights issues facing sexual minorities today, including the criminalization of homosexuality, new biomedical approaches to HIV prevention, and the spread of HIV among men who have sex with men in low- and middle-income countries.
About the MSMGF
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 17 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.