July 19, 2014
The critical leadership role that gay men, other men who have sex with men and transgender people continue to play in strengthening and deepening the global AIDS response was acknowledged during a key event on the eve of the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia.
The two-day Global Forum on MSM and HIV, held on 19 and 20 July under the theme “Setting the pace”, brought together activists, advocates, researchers, policy-makers and representatives of global donors and multilateral organizations, including UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé.
Participants discussed how gay men, other men who have sex with men and transgender people can enhance a pace-setting agenda and build on their historical contribution to driving the international response to HIV. They also used the unique global gathering to stress to a wider audience that the epidemic still has a disproportionate effect on these communities.
One of the main areas of focus at this year’s preconference event, the sixth of its kind, was HIV programme implementation. Issues explored included the implications of the new simpler and more flexible funding model of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, persistent barriers to accessing quality HIV services, such as criminalization and discrimination, and the training needs of health-care providers. There was also emphasis on examining the link between community systems and broader health systems in meeting the needs of gay men, other men who have sex with men and transgender people.
“In too many places around the world we are not stepping up the pace. I commit to focus on human rights and inclusion as opposed to exclusion.”
“When things work is usually because of communities and those directly affected.”
“It will be impossible to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 if we don’t put people at the centre of our approach, if people have to hide because of their sexuality.”