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MSMGF Applauds New U.S. Global AIDS Funding for Key Affected Populations

in UNITED STATES, 25/07/2012

In a landmark speech delivered earlier today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the United States Government will invest $37 million toward fighting the HIV epidemic among high-risk populations worldwide.

The funding will be allocated via three separate initiatives - supporting research, services, and community-led efforts, respectively - each focused on key affected populations including gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM).

“The importance of this announcement cannot be overstated,” said Dr. George Ayala, Executive Director of the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF). “Today the U.S. government has made a smart strategic investment, aligning global HIV funding with public health science. Dedicated funding for key populations has been a crucial missing piece in the global AIDS response - too often pushed aside as taboo or politically difficult. These new funding initiatives are a step forward for public health, for the right to health, and for creating a smart response that can end the epidemic.”

Gay men and other MSM are on average 19 times more likely to be infected with HIV than the general population in low- and middle-income countries. Despite the clear need for resources, data suggests that less than 2% of global HIV prevention spending is dedicated to gay men and other MSM.

Fifteen million U.S. dollars will be invested in implementation research to identify effective HIV interventions for each key affected population, which the Secretary’s remarks articulated as: sex workers, injecting drug users, and men who have sex with men (there was no mention of transgender people in the speech). A further $20 million will be allocated to a challenge fund that supports country-developed plans to expand services for key populations. Finally, $2 million will be invested in building capacity of civil society efforts to fight HIV among key populations through the Robert Carr Civil Society Network Fund.

The MSMGF has long advocated for funding to strengthen civil society networks in the HIV response and was involved in the planning committee that conceptualized and developed the Robert Carr Civil Society Network Fund.

“The creation of fenced-off funding dedicated specifically to key populations brings us one small step closer to harmonizing HIV resource allocation with need,” continued Dr. Ayala. “Funding for MSM, sex workers, people who inject drugs and transgender people remains unacceptably out of sync with epidemiologically demonstrated HIV disease burden. We still have a long way to go before we see HIV funding for our communities at the levels they should be.”

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