An advocacy brief from the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF). View this in pdf.
The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) calls on advocates around the world to make ‘men who have sex with men’ a strategic priority at the 2011 United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on AIDS
Plans are underway for a High-Level Meeting (HLM) at the United Nations (UN) between 8 –10 June 2011, convening Heads of State, government representatives, the private sector and civil society to mark 30 years since the first case of AIDS was identified. Importantly, this HLM is an opportunity for UN Member States to renew and accelerate previous time-bound commitments that they have made to combating HIV. Two political consensus statements1 were signed in 2001 and 2006 by 192 governments to ensure a coordinated global effort toward two main goals:
- Universal Access to HIV Prevention, Treatment, Care and Support Services by 2010
- Halt and Reverse the spread of HIV by 2015 (Millennium Development Goal #6)
This June, the world will witness the third such High-Level Meeting in ten years convened by the UN family to address the AIDS pandemic.
Despite these historical commitments, Universal Access was not achieved for all in 2010. Despite the recognition of human rights in the political statements, on-the-ground reality remains challenging for gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) around the world, evidenced by alarmingly high HIV rates and human rights abuses recorded by this population.
The months prior to the 2011 HLM offer a window of opportunity for advocates and broader civil society to hold their governments accountable and insist on a more human rights-centered approach to the global AIDS response. Civil society must demand the respectful inclusion of gay men, other MSM and MSM living with HIV at all stages leading to the meeting. Action is key before finalization of the ‘outcome declaration’, a crucial step in the way forward.
Despite elevated HIV rates and heightened vulnerability, gay men and other MSM have been under-recognized, under-studied, under-funded, and under-served historically in the global AIDS response
- Epidemiological surveillance shows that gay men and other MSM are at higher risk for HIV transmission when compared to adults in the general population in nearly every country truthfully collecting and reporting data.
- Only 1.2% of global HIV prevention funding was targeted toward MSM in 2007 and no comprehensive financing data has since been available.
- In 2008, only 32% of UN Member States reported on HIV prevalence among MSM, despite a mandate to report on relevant MSM data biennially.
- In 2009, only 13 UN Member States had national targets for HIV prevention coverage for MSM.
Innumerous events involving the unprovoked intimidation, torture, arrest, and murder of gay men and other MSM signal a disturbing pattern of backsliding on human rights
- Over 70 UN Member States currently criminalize same-sex acts between consenting adults; 7 of them issue the death penalty.
- Activity to expand criminal sanctions against MSM is occurring in numerous States.
- Research has consistently indicated that discrimination, rejection, marginalization and isolation of gay men and other MSM drive poorer mental, social and physical health outcomes.
- Disconnection of gay men and other MSM from mainstream society keeps them invisible, underground and away from necessary HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services.
The global health sector continues to remain poorly equipped to sensitively handle the HIV and health needs of gay men and other MSM
- In 2007, HIV prevention services only reached an estimated 9% of MSM worldwide.
- In 2010, more than 60% of MSM globally did not have easy access to free condoms and lubricants, related education materials or treatment.
- In 2010, more than 50% of MSM found it difficult or impossible to access HIV testing and counseling worldwide.
- Gay men and other MSM who also use drugs or engage in sex work often have more complex HIV needs but face unresponsive health and legal systems.
Act Now to Ensure a Meaningful High-Level Meeting!
- Learn more about the HLM and the Civil Society Task Force, a mechanism set up to ensure civil society input and participation in major processes leading up to the HLM.
- Advocate for representation of MSM and MSM living with HIV on your country’s delegation to the HLM.
- Participate in UNAIDS Regional Consultations and key meetings around the world.
- Join online discussion forums such as http://AIDSspace.org (UNAIDS).
The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) calls for the respectful and sensitive inclusion of gay men, other MSM and MSM living with HIV at all levels of processes leading up to the High-Level Meeting in June 2011. UNAIDS must actively solicit the participication of gay men, other MSM and MSM living with HIV (a) in regional meetings, and (b) as speakers at the civil society hearing and High-Level Meeting. ‘Men who have sex with men’ must be explicitly named and adopted as a strategic priority in the outcome document of the High-Level Meeting.
The MSMGF further encourages MSM organizations, networks and partners to advocate for the representation of MSM and MSM living with HIV in their national delegations to the upcoming meeting. In order to achieve newly set targets, MSM must be respectfully engaged at every level without any compromises whatsoever.
The MSMGF website can be accessed here: www.msmgf.org.
1 In 2001, the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS brought together Heads of State and Representatives of Governments for the first time on behalf of a health issue. The Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, a significant outcome of this 2001 meeting, provided a broad roadmap for halting and reversing the spread of HIV by 2015 (Millennium Development Goal #6). In 2006, a meeting to review progress made was convened and another commitment, the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, was signed. This 2006 declaration additionally recognized the urgent need to accelerate efforts to achieve Universal Access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services by the year 2010 for all who may need them.
2 The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS