The Lancet — one of the world’s best known, oldest, and most respected medical journals — released a special themed issue at AIDS 2012 describing some progress and the many ongoing challenges in the HIV epidemic affecting MSM and transgender populations around the world.
Among the articles is “From Personal Survival to Public Health: Gay and MSM Community Leadership in the HIV Response,” a remarkable analysis of the critical role that MSM and transgender community leadership has played in responding to HIV/AIDS. Heroic efforts in the 1980s and 1990s such as ACT UP in the United States and elsewhere and passionate and engaged advocacy in Brazil, Thailand and South Africa and other countries laid a foundation that has been essential to motivating action to address the needs of vulnerable MSM and transgender people. As the article points out, this work continues today and the voices are only getting louder.
Among other notable initiatives, the article describes Pehchan, our five-year Global Fund-supported programme that is building the capacity of 200 community-based organisations (CBOs) by and for MSM, transgenders and hijras in 17 states to partner successfully with the Government of India’s HIV prevention interventions through NACO and the State AIDS Control Societies and reach more than 450,000 community members.
India HIV/AIDS Alliance and the other organisations in the Pehchan consortium — Humsafar Trust, SAATHII, Sangama, and SIAAP — along with our 200 CBO partners are thrilled that our programme has been included in the Lancet special issue on HIV in MSM. Pehchan is unfortunately a rare example in the global response of collaboration at national scale between MSM and transgender civil society, government and a donor. As one of our AIDS 2012 posters describes, this can be a successful model, however we need more governments like India’s who have the political will to protect the health and wellbeing of high-risk groups vulnerable to HIV.
Central to successful efforts in India and elsewhere has been community leadership: to define needs, design responses and implement them effectively. By engaging the voices of MSM and transgender people, efforts to control HIV can empower marginalised sexual minority communities — building a transformative social movement and creating resiliance to the epidemic’s brutality.
The article can be read here.
Full contents of the special issue can found here.
(This issue of the Lancet may be reviewed free of charge, however registration is required.)
The author of this post, James Robertson, is Country Director of India HIV/AIDS Alliance.
With support from the Global Fund, Pehchan builds the capacity of 200 community-based organisations (CBOs) for men who have sex with men (MSM), transgenders and hijras in 17 states in India to be more effective partners in the government’s HIV prevention programme. By supporting the development of strong CBOs, Pehchan will address some of the capacity gaps that have often prevented CBOs from receiving government funding for much-needed HIV programming. Named Pehchan which in Hindi means ‘identity’, ‘recognition’ or ‘acknowledgement,’ this programme is implemented by India HIV/AIDS Alliance in consortium with Humsafar Trust, SAATHII, Sangama, and SIAAP and will reach 453,750 MSM, transgenders and hijras by 2015. It is the Global Fund’s largest single-country grant to date focused on the HIV response for vulnerable sexual minorities.
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