Int'l conference on HIV prevalence among sexual minorities to kick off in Vienna

Published: July 9, 2010

More than 100 of the world’s top experts on human rights and HIV among sexual minorities will lead presentations and workshops in Vienna on July 17 at BE HEARD, an all-day conference event to address soaring global rates of HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM). Hosted by the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF), BE HEARD will focus on challenges and solutions to achieving universal access to HIV-related prevention, care, treatment, and support services for sexual minority communities worldwide.

The event comes at a time when MSM in low- and middle-income countries are 19 times more likely to be infected with HIV than the general population, yet only one in five has access to the HIV prevention, care and treatment services they need.

"MSM have been at disproportionately high risk of HIV infection since the epidemic started," said George Ayala, Executive Officer of the MSMGF. "Yet our issues remain severely underrepresented at the international level. As prevalence rates among MSM are surpassing 30 percent in countries rich and poor alike, there is no time to waste.  BE HEARD is one of very few dedicated venues to focus on this staggering crisis."

The day will feature work by activists from around the world, as well as plenary speeches from UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, Global Fund Executive Director Michel Kazatchkine, and AIDS-Free World Co-Director Stephen Lewis, among others.

The program will highlight a wide array of the most pressing health and human rights issues facing sexual minorities today, including the riminalization of homosexuality, new biomedical approaches to HIV prevention, and the spread of HIV among men who have sex with men in low- nd middle-income countries.

The conference will also feature presentations from Sunil Babu Pant, Director, Blue Diamond Society as well as Manisha Dhakal, President, ederation of Sexual and Gender Minorities, Nepal. Pant is also the first openly gay parliamentarian of Nepal.

BE HEARD is the largest gathering to focus on the disproportionate impactof HIV among gay men.  The event will precede the launch of AIDS 2010, the XVIII International AIDS Conference (IAC).

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