(Durban, South Africa) – The Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) announced last week the first two recipients of The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Fund. The inaugural recipients are the International HIV/AIDS Alliance (The Alliance) and the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF). These partners will administer small grants and provide key technical expertise addressing stigma and discrimination through innovative and community-led approaches in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean.
The funding MSMGF is receiving from EJAF/US PEPFAR will be used to scale-up our own efforts to build policy environments that help facilitate access to HIV service for gay and bisexual men in areas where it is needed most. We will work in tandem with the LGBT Rapid Response Fund, managed by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, to expand community capacity through technical assistance and peer exchange. The partnerships implied by the awards being announced today represent an exciting and very promising deviation from business as usual. By earmarking these funds specifically for the LGBT community, EJAF/US PEPFAR are highlighting the extreme need for focus on these populations and the harsh discrimination they face.
“Congratulations to MSMGF on this exciting and well-deserved grant award to continue its work combating HIV while uplifting the global LGBT community,” stated U.S. Congresswoman and global champion in the work to end AIDS, Barbara Lee, “It acknowledges MSMGF’s amazing work over the past ten years and maintains EJAF/US PEPFAR’s leadership in supporting community-based advocates and organizers fighting to end AIDS.”
“We are honored to be named one of the inaugural recipients of this award,” said Dr. George Ayala, MSMGF’s Executive Director. “Stigma, discrimination and violence are among the biggest impediments to a sustainable LGBT-sensitive HIV response. Inequities in funding for LGBT-led community-based organizations further undermines our ability to get critical services to those who need it most. This award shows we can move past rhetoric and put words into action through funding for community-led initiatives.”
News of the award came on the heels of MSMGF’s Pre-Conference gathering, which took place last week in Durban, South Africa. Titled, Action + Access: Rights and Demand of Gay and Bisexual Men in the Global HIV Response, MSMGF’s Pre-Conference drew nearly 750 advocates, service providers, researchers, policy makers, and donors to: review the global economic cost of homophobia; highlight the role African LGBT movements play in the global HIV response; reflect on the use of oral history, art, and image making in building community; deliberate the latest HIV-related science; and share best practices in service implementation and movement building.
For a decade MSMGF has emphatically stressed the need for a more directed effort by funders to address the sexual health needs of the LGBT communities, especially gay and bisexual men and transgender women in the global HIV response. We are honored to be an inaugural recipient of the EJAF/US PEPFAR LGBT Fund. We look forward to building on these new partnerships and using all of our collective capacities to ensure equitable access to stigma free, high-quality, evidence-informed and rights-based HIV services for LGBT communities worldwide.
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MSMGF has worked since 2006 to encourage targeted, tailored, better resourced, and rights- based sexual health services for gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) worldwide through its advocacy and technical support work. As a global network, MSMGF has successfully influenced HIV responses at the local level through shifts in global-level policies and has effectively utilized public health as an entry point for advancing the human rights of LGBT people. MSMGF currently supports programs in 15 countries.