Last Tuesday, April 5th, MSMGF held the Civil Society Hearings Side Event, Unfinished Business – Taking bolder action to address HIV among gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men, at the United Nations in New York City in close consultation with the Global Platform to Fast Track the HIV and Human Rights Responses Among Gay, Bisexual Men and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men (The Platform), and supported by UNAIDS, UNDP, OGAC/PEPFAR, and the Global Fund.
The side event focused on several key topics, including:
- The need for reliable data on men who have sex with men and corresponding under-investments in programming
- Models of collaboration between organizations led by men who have sex with men and governments across the HIV prevention and treatment continuum of care
- Improving enabling policy environments for more effective HIV responses among men who have sex with men
The event exceeded expectations with over 100 participants (activists, advocates, civil society leaders and several mission country delegates and UN agencies). We were honored to host many distinguished speakers including Minister Alex Giacomelli da Silva with the Permanent Mission of Brazil, United Nations; Deputy Coordinator Thomas La Salvia with the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator; and Nigerian Activist, Micheal Ighodaro, Program and Policy Advisor, AVAC. Attendees were moved by a special video-taped message from Justice Michael Kirby of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law.
Watch the poignant video of Justice Michael Kirby here.
Watch the full speech of Deputy Coordinator Thomas La Salvia here.
Following the Side Event and the Civil Society Hearings in New York, it is even more evident that activists, advocates and civil society organizations must work together tirelessly to influence the United Nations High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS (HLM) in June. We must ensure that gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men are adequately included and prioritized in the political declaration to emerge from the HLM, which will directly influence the global AIDS response for years to come. It is clear we will not come close to approaching the progress we need without partnerships and avid community activism.
In the wake of these meetings and echoed concern from all parts of the world*, MSMGF’s policy brief: Unfinished Business: HIV Among Gay, Bisexual Men and Other Men Who Have Sex With Men is more significant than ever. Please download and share the policy brief here.
The time for talk is over. Bold action is needed now. We must demand that governments:
- Fully fund comprehensive HIV and other STI prevention, care and treatment programs that are competently delivered and tailored to the needs of men who have sex with men
- Ensure universal and unimpeded access to sexual health programs, including HIV and other STI services
- Decriminalize homosexuality and HIV and eliminate any laws and barriers that impact our access to sexual health services
If governments do not immediately put in place structures that battle discrimination, homophobia, stigma and criminalization for our communities then the HIV epidemic for gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men will remain uncontrolled across all regions.
The HIV and human rights needs of gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men must be placed firmly within the context of the upcoming HLM. This is crucial to ensure that the ambitious targets set by UNAIDS in 2015 in its Fast Track strategy to end AIDS by 2030 are achieved and include, if not emphasize, gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men. Otherwise vague, congratulatory slogans and targets like the “end of AIDS” are just empty phrases that will never be realized.
Photos from the Side Event and Civil Society meeting are here.
Power Point slide decks from the Side Meeting for download listed beow:
- HIV risks and vulnerabilities among Gay, Bisexuals and Others MSM - Stefan Baral, John Hopkins University
- HIV among Gay and Bisexual Men and others MSM – David Traynor, Global Fund
- Beyond slogans - Using data to understand and respond to lived realities for MSM – Keletso Makofane, MSMGF-ANOVA Institute
- Bridging Gaps in the HIV Prevention and treatment continuum of Care - Rafael Mazin, Gay Latino
- Enabling Policy environments for more effective HIV Responses among Gay and Bisexual and others MSM – Vitaly Karanda, UCDC Program Support Director Ukraine
- Enabling Policy environments - Carolyn Gomez, CVC Jamaica
- Contribution to the Side Event Unfinished Business: HIV among gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men Vitaly Djuma Executive Director, ECOM.
For those who didn’t get a chance to follow the discussions at the Civil Society Hearing, convened on April 6 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York by the President of the United Nations General Assembly, you can watch the proceedings at the links below:
Part 1: http://webtv.un.org/watch/part-1
Part 2: http://webtv.un.org/watch/part-2
*MSMGF contributed to the development of a Civil Society Statement of Concern regarding the HLM, written by a small working group consisting of STOPAIDS (UK), HealthGap and ICSS, with opportunity to input provided from the STOP AIDS Alliance, European AIDS Treatment Group, GNP+ and Youth-lead.