The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF)


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

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

3 Weeks Left! David Kato Vision & Voice Award Nominations Close Dec. 31!

**Please Circulate Widely**

Three Weeks Left! 
Nominations for the 2015 David Kato Vision & Voice Award Close Dec 31!

Who inspires you? 

The David Kato Vision & Voice 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.

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:

English: http://tinyurl.com/qd7djus
Spanish: http://tinyurl.com/kuhm9u8
French: http://tinyurl.com/lt7m2k3

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

For more information please visit www.visionandvoiceaward.com. Any questions can be directed to info@visionandvoiceaward.com. 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.

Monday, December 8, 2014

New Report: Global Consultation on Gay Men & the HIV Treatment Cascade




New Report on Gay Men & the HIV Treatment Cascade

Global consultation documents best practices, key principles, and practical approaches for engaging MSM in HIV treatment

Dear all,

Earlier this year, the MSMGF partnered with the Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation to host a global consultation on increasing engagement in the treatment cascade for gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) living with HIV. The final report from this consultation is now available, focused on informing the program and research agenda for HIV diagnosis, linkage to care, retention in care, access to medicine, and viral suppression for MSM.


Bringing together 30 community leaders and HIV experts from around the world, many of them MSM living with HIV, this gathering helped document best practices, key principles, and practical approaches for optimizing HIV treatment. Discussions included a focus on optimizing provision of all aspects of HIV-related care and mitigating barriers to services, with an emphasis on legally and socially constrained environments.  The meeting also produced a range of implementation science research questions that will ultimately help strengthen access to and delivery of HIV-related services among MSM.

The importance of resourcing community and community-led efforts and acknowledging their central role in the delivery of effective HIV-related care was stressed by all of the participants. Other key issues discussed during the consultation and highlighted in the report are:

  1. Variation in how and where care is delivered and the need for flexibility to maximize reach
  2. Social context and its influence on service delivery
  3. The need for equal partnerships between community-led and clinical services in care delivery initiatives
  4. Acceptability, accessibility, affordability, sensitivity, and quality of care services
  5. Ethical obligation of healthcare providers to serve in socially and legally constrained policy environments
  6. Meaningful involvement of MSM and MSM living with HIV in program planning and development, without exception
  7. Use of internet communications technology in service delivery models, especially in policy constrained settings
  8. Funding for community-led programs

The meeting and final report will help to inform the World Health Organization’s plan for operationalizing the agency’s 2013 HIV Treatment Guidelines and the 2014 Consolidated Guidelines on HIV Prevention, Diagnosis, Treatment and Care for Key Populations.

If you have any further questions regarding this report, please contact Ifeoma Udoh, Director of Monitoring and Evaluation, Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation at iudoh@pgaf.org.  

Kindest regards,

The MSMGF

Monday, December 1, 2014

MSMGF Youth Reference Group Releases Action Plan on World AIDS Day

MSMGF Youth Reference Group Releases Action Plan on World AIDS Day

Plan details goals, strategies, and priority activities to support young men who have sex with men (YMSM) over next three years

The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF)’s Youth Reference Group (YRG) is proud to unveil its Action Plan to support the health and human rights of young men who have sex with men (YMSM) over the next three years. Released on World AIDS Day, the plan details goals, strategies, and priority activities to be carried out from 2015-2017.


Originally assembled in 2009 to advise the MSMGF on issues related to YMSM populations, the MSMGF YRG is the only body working at the global level devoted specifically to supporting the health and rights of YMSM. Today, the MSMGF YRG includes 18 prominent YMSM activists working at the global, regional, and local level around the world, with representatives from Armenia, Egypt, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Lebanon, Nigeria, Peru, Singapore, and the US.

The World AIDS Day theme of “Close the Gap” is intended as a call for all people to be able to access HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support services. Studies show that YMSM continue to face significant barriers in accessing basic health services, including HIV prevention and treatment.

The MSMGF’s 2012 Global Men’s Health and Rights survey (n=5779 MSM; 2491 aged 30 and below) indicated that only 33% of YMSM surveyed reported that low-cost condoms were easily accessible. Even lower percentages of YMSM reported easy access to low-cost lubricants (18%), HIV education materials for MSM (9%), and HIV risk reduction programs for MSM (7%). Of participants living with HIV, nearly half of YMSM with a CD4 count below 350 were not engaged in treatment (44%). Findings also indicated that 20% of YMSM surveyed had no income and 30% had no stable housing, and that YMSM experienced significantly higher levels of homophobia and violence compared to older MSM. These findings were outlined in the MSMGF YRG’s policy brief, “Young Men Who Have Sex with Men: Health, Access, & HIV”.

In order to address these gaps, the MSMGF YRG’s Action Plan specifies actions in three domains – advocacy, research, and programs and services – on which the YRG will focus its energy for the next three years. The Action Plan also offers practical examples of efforts that other service provision, research, and advocacy entities can undertake to meet the needs of YMSM appropriately. The Action Plan was designed to be a useful guide not only for the MSMGF YRG and the MSMGF as a whole, but for any organization looking to support YMSM at the global, regional, or local level.

“Both young people and MSM face unique barriers to accessing HIV services respectively,” said Dr. George Ayala, Executive Director of the MSMGF. “Young MSM face the barriers of both populations, as well as a number of vulnerabilities that are unique to YMSM. As HIV rates among YMSM continue to climb around the world, it is clear that we cannot rely on strategies developed for general youth or general MSM to meet the needs of YMSM. We must address YMSM specifically, and we must do it now.”

The YRG Action Plan 2015-2017 can be found on the MSMGF’s website.

MEDIA CONTACT
Jack Beck
+1.510.332.0786
jbeck@msmgf.org

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 contact@msmgf.org

Kindest regards,

The MSMGF

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 www.visionandvoiceaward.com. Any questions can be directed to info@visionandvoiceaward.com. 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 contact@msmgf.org 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: http://bit.ly/1GqshF9

More information on each of the global key population networks featured in the report can be found on their respective websites: GNP+ (www.gnpplus.net); INPUD (www.inpud.net);  NSWP (www.nswp.org); the MSMGF (www.msmgf.org); and ITPC (www.itpcglobal.org).