May 31, 2013 – On May 30th, the High Level Panel (HLP) of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda released its final report, submitting it to the to the UN Secretary General and to the Member States of the UN for further deliberations. The HLP, co-chaired by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, worked with UN Member States to engage in consultations involving civil society, the private sector, academia, and research institutions from all regions, in addition to the UN system. The MSMGF provided significant input through civil society and thematic consultations , along with e-Discussions that have informed the deliberations of the HLP.
The HLP final report includes the key findings and recommendations based on these extensive consultations, laying out a vision for the development framework after the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015. The report reflects the need for a new transformative development agenda, but one that draws on the experience and gains made in implementing the MDGs, both in terms of results achieved and areas for improvement.
We laud the report for recognizing the need to complete the unfinished business of the unmet MDG’s, particularly around HIV. Moreover, we commend the report for recommending a 4th Goal of Ensuring Healthy Lives, with a specific target to reduce the burden of disease globally from HIV/AIDS. We also appreciate the report’s inclusion of the 4th Goal target to ensure universal sexual and reproductive health and rights, especially for young people.
The recommended 4th Goal is especially relevant to HIV because despite the progress achieved in scaling up the global response over the past decade, gay men and other MSM face higher rates of HIV than the general population, with discrimination in health care settings exacerbating this public health reality. The report from the MSMGF’s 2012 Global Men’s Health and Rights Study indicated that only one third of MSM can easily access condoms, lubricant, HIV testing, and HIV treatment, and homophobia and stigma from health care providers play a significant role in reducing access to life saving HIV resources.
Additionally, the MSMGF’s policy brief on young MSM (YMSM) also documents similar statistics among YMSM: less than 35% of YMSM could easily access condoms and lubricants, and less than 25% could easily access low-cost STI testing and treatment. This policy brief also notes that YMSM must have access to sexual education that explicitly addresses sexual practices and sexual health issues relevant to YMSM, including anal sex, substance use, and mental health. “Comprehensive sexual education must also be accompanied by efforts to ensure YMSM can access the HIV prevention resources they need,” said Dr. George Ayala, Executive Director of the MSMGF. “Therefore, both of these health targets are crucial to the health and human rights of MSM.”
However, while the HLP report acknowledges the need to address the structural barriers that are at the root of inequality and impede the right to health, including “discrimination [that] can create barriers to health services for vulnerable groups,” we are disappointed that the report fails to ever explicitly mention the health needs of MSM or any other key populations most affected by HIV.
The MSMGF will advocate for specific inclusion of MSM and other key affected populations by name in any future development goals and targets, adding these populations to the ones explicitly named in the HLP report—women, youth, persons with disabilities, to name a few. “By not specifically naming MSM and other key affected populations, and lumping us into a catch-all category of ‘marginalized communities’ or ‘vulnerable groups,’ the HLP report contributes to the invisibility of communities most directly impacted by HIV,” said Noah Metheny, Director of Policy of the MSMGF.
The collaborative research and advocacy work of the MSMGF its partners clearly demonstrates that an effective and ongoing HIV response requires the involvement of MSM and other key affected populations. The role our communities play in advocating for our health and human rights is crucial to the meaningful achievement of HIV-related, health-related, and broader development goals and targets.
The MSMGF applauds the transformative and ambitious development vision outlined in the HLP report to end extreme poverty by 2030. We look forward to working with governments, UN agencies, civil society, and other stakeholders to tackle the significant development challenges ahead, particularly those faced by MSM and other key affected populations.
[for more information on MSMGF, visit their website]