New amfAR Awards Help Local Groups in Latin America Confront HIV/AIDS Among Most Vulnerable Populations

Published: January 17, 2012

NEW YORK, January 17, 2012—As men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender individuals in many parts of the world face increasing levels of homophobic rhetoric and violence, amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research on Tuesday announced a fourth round of Latin America community awards made through its MSM Initiative, designed to support frontline groups working directly with local MSM and transgender populations.

The 12 Latin America awards, which will provide funding for HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, testing, and treatment services, range from more than $10,000 to $20,000 each. These awards have been made possible by a generous gift from the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

See the full list of amfAR’s fourth round of Latin America community awards made through its MSM Initiative

“We’re thrilled to work with such a great group of frontline organizations that are doing such vital work all over Latin America, including two groups we’re continuing to work with because of the impact they’ve already had in their communities,” said MSM Initiative Director Kent Klindera. “It’s still extremely difficult—and often dangerous—to conduct this kind of work in many parts of Latin America, and the work these 12 groups do is vital to curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS in the region.”

Funded projects include a comprehensive study of available health services and resources available to gay men, other MSM, and transgender individuals in three cities in Chile; an effort in Honduras to amend the Honduran Special Law on HIV to include protection for all citizens regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity; and an advocacy project, led by and for transgender women, to improve access to HIV services for transgender individuals in three cities in Bolivia.

Two of the groups are receiving MSM Initiative awards for the second time to help them continue their work. Members of SOMOSGAY in Asuncion, Paraguay, will use the continued funding to help them increase voluntary counseling and testing services for gay men, other MSM, and transgender people in and around Asuncion, as well as treatment services and referrals to follow-up care. The other group, Grupo Genesis Panama Positivo (GGP+) in Panama City, Panama, will use its second round of funding to improve follow-up care services and case management by peer leaders for MSM in Panama City.

“The work that these two groups continue to do with MSM Initiative funding exemplifies a main goal of the program: empowering local leaders to take their community’s health into their own hands,” Klindera said.

Since its inception in 2007, amfAR’s MSM Initiative has made 161 community awards totaling more than US$3 million to support 117 frontline organizations serving MSM and transgender individuals in 66 countries. Awards have been made in low- and middle-income countries in five regions of the world: Africa, Asia-Pacific, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe/Central Asia, and Latin America.

“As the groups we fund help collect vital data and conduct outreach to populations that are often ignored in the fight against HIV/AIDS, we’re confident that amfAR’s MSM Initiative is making a difference in the overall epidemic,” said amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost. “amfAR is proud of its grassroots partner organizations for helping us reach MSM and transgender individuals in ways that are having a real impact.”

Studies show that the need for such work is vital: A 2007 analysis of data from 38 low- and middle-income countries showed that MSM are 19 times more likely to be infected with HIV than the general population. These rates are consistent across the globe, even in African nations that have generalized epidemics. Yet according to United Nations estimates, by late 2007, a mere eight percent of MSM had been reached by comprehensive HIV prevention programs. No reliable data exists on transgender individuals, but it is expected that HIV rates are even higher for this population.

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