The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF)

Working worldwide against HIV for the health and human rights of men who have sex with men.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Plenary Speeches & Final Report from MSMGF Pre-Conference at AIDS 2014

Plenary Speeches & Full Report Now Available
MSMGF Pre-Conference at AIDS 2014

Thank you to everyone who attended the MSMGF Pre-Conference to AIDS 2014 in Melbourne, Australia! More than 500 attendees representing 268 organizations across 59 countries attended the event, entitled "Setting the Pace: Gay Men, MSM, and Transgender People in the Global HIV Response." The full report from the event is now available on the MSMGF's website, including evaluation data and participant feedback. 

Videos of plenary addresses at the MSMGF Pre-Conference are also now available on the MSMGF's YouTube channel:

Thank you very much! As always, please direct any questions to

Kindest regards,


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Nominations Now Open for 2015 David Kato Vision & Voice Award!

Nominations Now Open for 2015 David Kato Vision & Voice Award!
Who inspires you?

The Secretariat of the David Kato Vision & Voice Award (DKVVA) is pleased to announce that the call for nominations for the 2015 award is now open!

The award celebrates the life and work of Ugandan human rights activist David Kato, who was murdered in his Kampala home in January 2011. To honor David’s legacy, the DKVVA was founded to recognize leaders who work to uphold the sexual rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people around the world.

David Kato

Offered once every year to an inspirational individual who demonstrates courage and outstanding leadership in advocacy for LGBTI sexual rights, the award provides the recipient with a one-time grant of $10,000 to support their work.

Nominations for the award close on 31 December 2014 and can be completed online:

If the hyperlinks above do not work, please copy and paste the URL into your browser.

For more information please visit Any questions can be directed to To learn more about David Kato, visit the website of the award-winning film “Call Me Kuchu,” which follows the last year of David’s life.

Read this message in Spanish or French.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

MSMGF and Partners Meet with U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx

Key Challenges Raised in Supporting MSM through PEPFAR and the Global Fund

In April of this year, Dr. Deborah Birx was appointed as Ambassador-at-Large and coordinator of all U.S. government activities to address HIV globally.

As the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Birx oversees the implementation of U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) as well as the U.S. government’s engagement with the Global Fund. Together, the U.S. government’s commitments through PEPFAR and the Global Fund account for nearly half of all global funding for HIV and AIDS.

Following her appointment, the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) coordinated with Ambassador Birx’s office over several months to schedule a meeting during her planned visit to the San Francisco Bay Area in October. PEPFAR and the Global Fund represent two of the most important funding streams supporting HIV work among men who have sex with men (MSM) and other key populations worldwide, and it is essential that these funding mechanisms work as well as possible to support the health and human rights of our populations.

With funding from the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the MSMGF was able to support four of our partners to travel to the Bay Area to attend the meeting in person: Dr. Cheikh Traore, co-chair of the Solidarity Alliance for Human Rights (Nigeria); Serge Douomang Yotta, Executive Director of Affirmative Action (Cameroon); Claver Toure, Executive Director of Alternative Cote d’Ivoire (Cote D’Ivoire); and Brian Macharia, Program Coordinator, Ishtar (Kenya).

In advance of the meeting, the MSMGF consulted extensively with each participating partner as well as key staff from African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR) to develop a concrete set of top priority concerns to address at the meeting with Ambassador Birx. Following an introductory presentation by MSMGF Executive Director Dr. George Ayala, participating partners presented the six priority concerns to Ambassador Birx using concrete examples from their own experience. Points are summarized below.

Dr. George Ayala

1. More meaningful engagement of civil society, inclusive of MSM and other key populations, in the Country Operational Planning process, and making engagement opportunities more transparent.

Nigeria receives some of the largest amounts of funding from PEPFAR, with funding support for MSM work dating back to 2008. However, MSM and other key populations still face real challenges when trying to engage meaningfully and participate in development of PEPFAR’s Country Operating Plan (COP) in Nigeria. 

The COP process itself remains very opaque. We don’t know when it happens or who is involved. Big implementers are often at the table, but they represent a variety of populations and interests that do not necessarily reflect the interest of key populations.  Moreover, key population-led  civil society groups are often left out of and not consulted in the process. For example, some of the funding and programmatic decisions made through the COP process are very far from what key population communities need or want.

Dr. Cheikh Traore, Brian Macharia, and Cornelius Baker

2. Funding comprehensive, rights‐based responses inclusive of programs that are community-, MSM‐, and key population‐led.

In Kenya, key population civil society advocates have done significant work with the government over the last few years focused on HIV interventions targeting MSM. The Global Fund has led the way in supporting these interventions and pushing for greater transparency and accountability.  However, it is much less clear what PEPFAR’s mechanisms are for ensuring that funding trickles down to reach smaller community-based organizations, particularly those led by and serving MSM. This makes it difficult for key population civil society advocates to watchdog and hold organizations accountable if things need to be pushed or changed.

Things are further complicated in Kenya by the fact that some key implementers receiving PEPFAR funds are not supportive of advocacy campaigns or efforts to reduce stigma and discrimination for key populations, since most of their work focuses on other prevention and treatment programs.  These large recipient organizations are implementing these programs without input from key population civil society organizations.

Brian Macharia and Cornelius Baker

3. Securing country buy‐in for MSM‐ and key population‐focused work.

We are aware of the new PEPFAR funding targeting key populations through the five year USAID Linkages program, which will be an extremely important funding source for key populations. Moreover, we know that the success of this program will depend on country buy-in as a mechanism for increasing funding to key population programs and interventions.  

All civil society participants at the meeting are committed to increasing government buy-in to fund HIV responses with targeted interventions for key populations. Civil society participants and Ambassador Birx’s team discussed numerous options for increasing buy-in, including standardized processes for civil society to inform PEPFAR secretariat staff of exclusion from COP processes; adding staff to review COP processes for civil society inclusion; and adapting the country dialogue processes used in the Global Fund’s New Funding Model to PEFPAR’s COP process. The MSMGF has provided draft language for inclusion in the COP Guidance to facilitate greater civil society participation.

Ambassador Deborah Birx and Dr. George Ayala

4. Creating mechanisms for getting funds to smaller, community‐, MSM‐, key population‐led organizations, including core funding and funding for leadership development and advocacy.

PEPFAR provides a great deal of support to Cameroon. However, PEPFAR funding is mainly directed to major NGOs and national authorities instead of grassroots organizations. Over a year ago, Affirmative Action applied for a small amount of funding provided by PEPFAR through the Local Capacity Initiative, which only offers funding for activities and not core operating costs. Affirmative Action never received any notice regarding the results of their application.

The HIV work done with key populations by Affirmative Action and similar organizations in Cameroon is very sensitive, and it does not have the support of the government. Cameroonian civil society organizations really need capacity and institutional support to do this work, and we urge more PEPFAR funding be directed to the needs of grassroots organizations. 

The Ambassador explained that PEPFAR has had difficulty getting more funding to grassroots groups because there are limited mechanisms through which PEPFAR can do this. The Ambassador committed her office to exploring new and existing funding mechanisms to provide increased funding to civil society organizations, including through the Ambassador’s Small Grants and the Robert Carr Civil Society Network Fund. 

5. Ensuring PEPFAR‐funded implementers are human rights‐based and promote key populations.

Access to health cannot be delinked from human rights, even in difficult environments like Cote d’Ivoire. Some of the larger PEPFAR implementers that Alternative Cote d’Ivoire works with as a sub-recipient exhibit homophobic behavior.  

For example, when Claver’s office and home were ransacked, he reached out to the main PEPFAR implementer in Cote d’Ivoire to ask for help with personal security and a safe alternative work space. He was told by the implementer that they do not handle these kinds of issues as they are only tasked with working on HIV.  They were concerned that they would be accused of promoting homosexuality if they intervened too much.  Ultimately, the French embassy provided security to protect Alternative Cote d’Ivoire’s office.  

This example and many others like it highlight the need for PEPFAR to develop better mechanisms to respond to human rights emergencies and ensure the security of the people working on the ground. We need a mechanism that allows advocates to report human rights emergencies to PEPFAR secretariat staff, informing them of what is going on in their country. Ambassador Birx pointed out that PEPFAR already has non-discrimination clauses in all contracts with implementers, but enforcement remains an issue. She committed to continuing to work with embassies and State Department staff to respond effectively to human rights emergencies.

6. Facilitating better data collection and utilization to improve targeting of funding and interventions for MSM and other key populations, without sacrificing their safety and security.

Community members must be partners in data collection and research, including monitoring and evaluation activities. These are challenging issues, especially considering the sensitive nature of some of the data and the associated risks. Better systems are needed for south-south exchange, data collection, and data evaluation that protect the rights and safety of key populations involved. 

Throughout the meeting, Ambassador Birx and her senior advisors were highly engaged in a very lively discussion and debate with the MSMGF staff and partners. The MSMGF and partners will follow up with Ambassador Birx and her team on each of the issues raised in this meeting, and we welcome additional input on PEPFAR and the Global Fund from our members, who are invited to write us anytime at with concerns or requests.

Ambassador Birx continues to prove herself a passionate and committed ally to key populations globally. We look forward to working with her to ensure that issues impacting key populations are recognized and addressed based on evidence and input from the ground.

MSMGF Staff and Partners with Ambassador Birx

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

New Publication: Global Action with Local Impact - Why Advocacy Matters

The Role of Global-Level Advocacy in Addressing HIV among Key Populations

New report details recent global advocacy strategies and outcomes achieved to enhance health and human rights for key populations

November 5, 2014 - A new report released today examines the role of global-level advocacy in addressing HIV among key populations, including people living with HIV (PLHIV), people who inject drugs, sex workers, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Entitled “Global Action with Local Impact: Why Advocacy Matters,” the report details strategies used and outcomes achieved by five constituency-led global network organizations focused on key populations, providing numerous case study examples illustrating the concrete impact of advocacy at the global level.

The report focuses on global-level work conducted as part of the Bridging the Gaps program, an international multi-agency effort devoted to achieving universal access to HIV services and ensuring full human rights for key populations. Supported by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the program is a collaboration between five Dutch-based organizations, five global key population networks, and 80 grassroots organizations across 16 countries.

“Communities are central to an effective HIV response among key populations,” said Dr. George Ayala, Executive Director of the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF), one of the five global key population networks partnered with Bridging the Gaps. “Key populations are socially marginalized and too often subject to abuse and incarceration, blocking access to vital health services. Grassroots organizations play a critical role in addressing the social and structural factors responsible for disease inequity. They often provide the highest quality services to the local community, and they are best positioned to push for more effective government action to address HIV. Global-level advocacy is essential to ensure that local communities of key populations are sustainably-funded, technically prepared, and politically supported to maximize their impact.”

The report includes principles of practice for global advocacy and a detailed theory of change depicting causal chains that lead to improvements in health and human rights for key populations. Numerous examples of global advocacy are included with a focus on concrete results of global advocacy initiatives. All work featured in the report was conducted by Bridging the Gaps global partners: the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), the International Network of People Who Use Drugs (INPUD), the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP), the MSMGF, and the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC).

The report can be found online here:

More information on each of the global key population networks featured in the report can be found on their respective websites: GNP+ (; INPUD (;  NSWP (; the MSMGF (; and ITPC ( 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Webinar Recording Now Available: Drug Use & Harm Reduction among MSM


Drug Use and Harm Reduction among MSM

Presented by the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) in partnership with Anova Health Institute and Mainline, this webinar focuses on drug use and harm reduction among men who have sex with men (MSM). The webinar is intended for a global audience of community-based organizations and healthcare providers who serve MSM but who may not have expertise in harm reduction programming.

During the hour-long program, the webinar covers:

  • An introduction to the different types of drug use among MSM and their effects
  • Common patterns of drug use among MSM
  • Basic harm reduction principles for programs that currently serve MSM

The full recording of the webinar is available online here, and recordings of all previous MSMGF webinars are available on the MSMGF's website here.

For additional resources on harm reduction programming, please visit the following links:

Any questions can be directed to MSMGF Sr. Research and Programs Associate Keletso Makofane at

Thank you very much!


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Upcoming Webinar: Drug Use & Harm Reduction among MSM

Upcoming Webinar

Drug Use and Harm Reduction among MSM

 Thursday October 30, 2014
7:00 am PST

In partnership with Anova Health Institute and Mainline, the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) presents a webinar on drug use and harm reduction among men who have sex with men (MSM). The webinar is intended for a global audience of community-based organizations and healthcare providers who serve MSM but who may not have expertise in harm reduction programming.

 During the 45 minute program, we will cover:

  • An introduction to the different types of drug use among MSM and their effects
  • Common patterns of drug use among MSM
  • Basic harm reduction principles for programs that currently serve MSM

This webinar will be presented by Grant Cairns and Machteld Busz.

Grant Cairns is a harm reduction outreach worker and support group facilitator in the Anova Health Institute’s Health4Men Project. Grant joined the Health4Men Project as a volunteer and started working in data administration before joining the harm reduction team. The Health4Men Project offers sexual health services to men who have sex with men through clinics in Cape Town and Johannesburg. In addition, the Health4Men Project provides training and mentorship to government healthcare workers across South Africa. Grant is currently studying towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Sciences and Social Services.

Mac Busz works as International Programme Manager at Mainline. She holds a degree in Social Psychology and International Development Studies. Mainline is a Dutch based non-governmental organization with 25 years of work experience with people who use drugs (PWUD). Mainline specializes in drug use and health, and all of their work is based on harm reduction principles. In the past 15 years Mainline has offered training and consultancy in countries all over the world.

This webinar is free of charge and pre-registration is required in order to participate. To learn more and pre-register, click the following link:

Any questions can be directed to MSMGF Sr. Research and Programs Associate Keletso Makofane at

Thank you very much!


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Webinar Recording Now Available: Key Populations, Treatment Access, and the Global Fund


Engaging Key Populations with Expertise in Treatment Access: Concept Note Development for the Global Fund New Funding Model

Recording Available Here

Earlier today, the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) and the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) presented a webinar on strategies to address treatment access in the context of the Global Fund New Funding Model (NFM).

The webinar presented strategies for engaging community partners with expertise in treatment access in the Global Fund country dialogue process. Featured presenters discussed approaches for engaging community partners in the country dialogue process effectively, including: ways to identify and engage appropriate community partners; ways to access technical support for concept note development; examples of activities to be considered for a concept note; and general guidance for meeting principles of the NFM. Treatment access in the Middle East & North Africa was presented as a case study for potential opportunities and challenges as community partners prepare to engage with the NFM in the coming period.

More information on the content of the webinar is available in the original invitation here. The full recording is available online here, and recordings of all previous MSMGF webinars are available on the MSMGF's website here.

Thank you very much! Any questions can be directed to MSMGF Senior Policy Advisor Nadia Rafif at

Kind regards,