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

Thursday, August 27, 2015

MSMGF on the Rentboy Raids--No Justice in Criminalizing Sex Work

  MSMGF Troubled by Backsliding Human Rights and Receding Civil Liberties 


August 26, 2015 - The Global Forum on MSM & HIV(MSMGF) joins human rights advocates in opposing raids against Rentboy.com by federal and state law enforcement officials in the United States of America (U.S.A.), which arrested seven people associated with the website. Arrests come only two days after Amnesty International's call to decriminalize sex work and two years after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down PEPFAR’s regressive “anti-prostitution pledge” in a 6-2 majority vote. MSMGF views the actions and the ‘homeland security mindset’ of the U.S. Justice Department as an affront to human rights. 


MSMGF strongly endorses the decriminalization of consensual adult sex work. Criminalization of sex work intentionally undermines sex workers’ fundamental right to bodily autonomy, to work, to health, and to be free from blackmail, harassment, and violence.

The raids and arrests earlier this week reflect a disturbing trend of receding civil liberties and sex-shaming. Worldwide, the freedom of association, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly are being slowly stripped away, while mainstream LGBT movements remain almost singularly focused on same-sex marriage sometimes at the cost of a more progressive sexual rights agenda. Infringement of civil liberties and human rights (including sexual rights) should not be tolerated under any circumstance, and certainly not in the name of homeland security, as is the case in the U.S.A.

MSMGF calls on other human rights defenders to vocally oppose actions taken against Rentboy.com by the U.S. Justice Department. There is no justice in criminalizing sex work. Sex shaming is a hallmark tactic used by homophobes, transphobes, and misogynists.

MSMGF specifically invites LGBT activists worldwide, especially mainstream groups, to use these developments as an opportunity to formulate a clearer articulation of our movement’s political and advocacy priorities. MSMGF strongly encourages a return to a more progressive social change agenda, one that is linked with protecting fundamental human rights for all people and aligned with other social change movements, including those led by sex workers.


Finally, MSMGF urges the U.S. government to take immediate steps to decriminalize sex work. This includes the removal of the ‘anti-prostitution pledge’ which wrongly persists as a requirement in contracts with international non-governmental organizations by the U.S. government as a condition for funding vital services.


About Us: MSMGF has worked since its founding in 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. 


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MEDIA CONTACT 
Jack Mackenroth 
jmackenroth@msmgf,org 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

MSMGF Responds: UNAIDS Draft Strategy for 2016-2021 Can Be Bolder





Last week, MSMGF submitted comments to UNAIDS Draft Strategy for 2016-2021. Although we stand by UNAIDS' call to fast-track the HIV response, we were disappointed with the draft's timidity concerning men who have sex with men and other key populations. MSMGF encourages UNAIDS to be bolder in its call for unfettered HIV treatment on demand immediately after diagnosis. UNAIDS should also be unwavering in its call to decriminalize homosexuality, sex work and drug use as integral to a fast-tracked HIV response.

Some of our recommendations include:

  1. Elevating men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender women, and injecting drug users more explicitly and more evenly across the stated goals and proposed strategies;

  2. Calling for initiation of HIV treatment upon diagnosis and upon demand for all people;

  3. Urging governments to modernize diagnostics, including point- of-care technologies for all people;

  4. Investing in community-led efforts and promoting more global alignment across the UN family, in close partnership with the Global Fund and major bilateral agencies;

  5. Leading efforts to decriminalize homosexuality, sex work, and injection drug use; 

Read the complete MSMGF statement here.

Reference the UNAIDS Strategy Draft for 2016—2021 here.


About MSMGF: MSMGF has worked since its founding in 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.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Jack Mackenroth
jmackenroth@msmgf.org 


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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Groundbreaking: Sub-Saharan African HIV Advocates Meet With Government Officials to Strengthen HIV Response for Men Having Sex with Men (MSM)


Unprecedented Meeting Critical for Strengthening Health Sector as it Relates to HIV Services for MSM in Countries Where Homosexuality is Criminalized and Stigmatized




August 3-4, 2015 (Johannesburg, SA) The MSMGF co-hosted a workshop of advocates, government officials, healthcare providers and public health practitioners from twelve African countries.(Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Zimbabwe) Regional advocates discussed the HIV needs of men who have sex with men (MSM) with their government officials, armed with guidelines by the World Health Organization (WHO). In some instances, this is the first time advocates sat across the table with government officials in their respective countries.


Participants were also briefed on the latest developments in the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the GlobalFund), and the United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). These organizations are the two largest funders of HIV programs in Africa. Recently, both organizations have opened up their processes to ensure that the voices of communities of people most affected by HIV, including MSM, are adequately engaged in funding decisions and in HIV programs.


“We have a groundbreaking opportunity to scale-up high quality sexual health services for MSM in Africa”, said Dr. George Ayala, executive director of the MSMGF, “We have sound technical guidance from the WHO, as well as a wealth of program experience from community-led organizations around the world. These have been used in developing a practical guidance for implementing WHO recommended interventions, which we discussed at the meeting. With support from UNFPA, UNDP, and the WHO, the implementation tool for MSM, also known as MSMIT, will be formally launched in the next few weeks.”

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“In past years, the focus of advocacy by MSM was to have the burden of HIV in our community recognized in the international HIV response. Today there is some recognition, and our task now is to implement programs to end HIV through partnerships between civil society, governments, donors and implementers. Last week’s meeting aimed to facilitate these partnerships”, said Keletso Makofane, Senior Programs and Research consultant, based in Johannesburg, South Africa.


MSMGF co-hosted the meeting on evidence-based HIV responses for men who have sex with men in Sub-Saharan Africa in collaboration with Anova Health Institute, COC Nederland, African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR), AVAC, theWorld Health Organization (WHO), with support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the USAID/FHI 360 Linkages Program, and the Bridging the Gaps Program through COC Nederland.


About MSMGF: MSMGF has worked since its founding in 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.


MEDIA CONTACT
Jack Mackenroth
jmackenroth@msmgf.org 



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Monday, August 3, 2015

Sign This Petition to Support the Decriminalization of Sex Work and Protect All Human Rights



The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) would like to formally commend Amnesty International on their draft policy supporting decriminalization of sex work. We know that more than two years of extensive research has preceded your conclusions and proposals. The draft policy is critical to advancing the human rights of sex workers and addressing the violence sex workers experience in their day‐to‐day lives. You have our congratulations and our unwavering support.

Amnesty International has been receiving backlash from some high profile celebrities who are unfortunately ill-informed on this issue. We hope you will stand with us to protect sex workers by signing this petition from the Global Network of Sex Work Projects.

MSMGF supports full decriminalization of sex work and opposes the conflation of sex work with human trafficking. Such conflation of issues is stigmatizing, exacerbates violence, and reinforces legal systems that exploit, mistreat and subordinate sex workers. It also undermines public health efforts to end AIDS by creating barriers to prevention and care services. 




About MSMGF: MSMGF has worked since its founding in 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.

MEDIA CONTACT 
Jack Mackenroth 
jmackenroth@msmgf,org 


Thursday, July 16, 2015

PrEP for MSM Cannot Wait


 PrEP for MSM Cannot Wait 

The Leading Global Network on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) Calls for Communities of Men Who Have Sex With Men Worldwide to Rally Behind Sexual Health Strategies

July 15, 2015 (Oakland,CA)--MSMGF calls for the widespread availability of and access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as an integral part of comprehensive sexual health programs for men who have sex with men (MSM), ahead of the International AIDS Society’s Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment, and Prevention Conference in Vancouver, July 19-22.

Clinical guidelines for the use of PrEP among MSM are set forth by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Grounded in scientific research, PrEP is a crucial addition to the collection of effective HIV prevention strategies for HIV-negative MSM, including MSM who may be in serodiscordant relationships or MSM who are considered to be at an elevated risk for acquiring HIV. Optimizing the success of PrEP necessitates scaling up comprehensive sexual health programs in close partnership with local MSM-led community-based organizations.

The facts about PrEP bear repeating: 1) PrEP provides a high-degree of protection against new HIV infections when taken as recommended; 2) the use of PrEP does not increase high-risk behavior among MSM; 3) MSM who perceive themselves to be at risk for HIV are more likely to be adherent to PrEP; and 4) the efficacy of PrEP is bolstered when MSM have access to supplementary sexual health initiatives and live in an environment that fosters PrEP adherence. 


“Now is the time to step up community demand for comprehensive sexual health programs that include PrEP,” asserts Dr. George Ayala, Executive Director of MSMGF. “Community-led educational and advocacy campaigns are still sorely needed to ensure availability, access, and uptake to interventions that work.”


Nearly 80% of MSM around the world still lack basic or sufficient HIV prevention services despite the proven efficacy of such interventions.1 Therefore PrEP should not be seen as the sole means of preventing HIV infection, but rather used as part of a comprehensive approach, which includes unfettered access to condoms and lubricants, routine HIV testing, risk-reduction counselling, early anti-retroviral care and treatment for MSM living with HIV, and adherence coaching when PrEP or treatment is offered. In addition, routine screening and treatment for other sexually transmitted infections are critical. These options are most effective when delivered in a non-discriminatory setting where MSM feel safe and welcomed.

“We should be advancing public discussion and action around PrEP,” insists Dr. Ayala. “There is unfinished business on the research and implementation fronts that still need watchdogging. New and exciting approaches are on the horizon, including the promise of long-term injectables. The importance of PrEP is bigger than its HIV prevention potential and our actions shouldn’t be clouded by outmoded thinking. PrEP can be a catalyst for mobilizing community through a more progressive vision for the sexual health and wellness of MSM. We can demand more.”


About MSMGF: MSMGF has worked since its founding in 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.

MEDIA CONTACT
Jack Mackenroth
jmackenroth@msmgf,org

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1 Arreola,S.,etal.AccesstoHIVpreventionandtreatment for men who have sex with men: Findings from the 2012 Global Men’s Health and Rights Study (GMHR). 2012 [Cited 15 July 2015]; Available from: http://www. msmgf.org/files/msmgf/documents/GMHR_2012.pdf. 



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Copyright © 2015 The Global Forum on MSM & HIV, All rights reserved. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

MSMGF Board Member, Tom Whitman, Joins Board of National AIDS Monument




(Los Angeles) June 10, 2015--The Foundation for a National AIDS Monument today announced three new members of its Board of Directors. Actor and activist  Zachary Quinto, William Morris Endeavor Board Member Mark Itkin and marketing executive and MSMGF Board Member Tom Whitman (pictured). All three men add a wealth of knowledge, leadership and experience to support the growth and development of the AIDS Monument, located in West Hollywood, CA.

 
The Foundation for an AIDS Monument has been working with the City of West Hollywood and local community members to plan for the development of an enduring physical and interactive testament to the historic and future fight against HIV and AIDS. The physical monument, as envisioned by internationally acclaimed artist Daniel Tobin, will honor HIV/AIDS activists, caregivers and community leaders, and memorialize those impacted by the devastation of HIV/AIDS on a local and national level.

Tom Whitman, Tom Whitman Presents (TWP) — Tom Whitman is the Senior Vice President/Director of Flip, the LGBT division of integrated marketing agency ion+Radarworks, with offices in Los Angeles, Seattle and New York. Tom has made a career of specializing in connecting Fortune 500 brands to the LGBT consumer through a range of integrated marketing plans, including experiential, digital, print, influencer marketing and social media. His deep experience in delivering creative and innovative programs ranges from television and event production to advertising, marketing and communications. A much sought after thought-leader and expert on LGBT marketing and promotions, Tom also serves in leadership positions on the Board of Directors of AIDS Project Los Angeles, GLAAD, the Global Forum on MSM and HIV, and is active in the regional, national and global LGBT non-profit space.

"The National AIDS monument will be a catalyst for conversations that can help save lives. We are equally grateful for Tom's experience in building community and marketing campaigns as well as his relevant Board experience," said Jason H. Kennedy, Board vice-chair.

The monument will be located in Los Angeles in West Hollywood Park, which is undergoing an $86 million renovation. The foundation Board chose Daniel Tobin of Urban Arts Project to design the monument.
 



For more information about the AIDS Monument in West Hollywood, please visit www.aidsmonument.org .

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Successes, Concerns and Next Steps in Engaging Men Who Have Sex with Men and Other Key Populations PEPFAR Country Operational Plans: STAY ENGAGED!



June 18, 2015 – The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) attended the PEPFAR Country Operational Plan (COP) Review, held during the week of June 6th, in Windhoek, Namibia.  COPs for 6 PEPFAR recipient countries – Cameroon, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, and Uganda – were discussed and revised.

MSMGF together with global and local partners raised major concerns with the draft COP proposals being submitted, including: 1) Insufficient clarity on security protections for community organizations working with key populations, 2) Weak key populations data, compounded by proposed underfunding of integrated bio-behavioral surveillance (IBBS) studies of men who have sex with men and sex workers, 3) Unambitious national prevention coverage targets, and 4) Uncertainty over how program funds would reach community-based organizations rather than large international NGOs.

By week’s end, MSMGF and its civil society partners received important commitments from the U.S. Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC) and PEPFAR teams that programming for key populations would be strengthened in the final approved COPs. The full community update on the COP review process is available online.  A downloadable PDF version is on the MSMGF website here.

MSMGF and others key global partners have consistently presented to OGAC recurrent concerns expressed by advocates working at community level across PEPFAR funded countries. For the complete breakdown of country-specific recommendations and requests made to OGAC, download our compiled list here.

Kind regards,


The MSMGF