Global Fund Poised to Award its First - ever Major Regional Grant to Help Reduce Impact of HIV and AIDS on Men Who Have Sex with Men

25 Nov 2009

25 November 2009, Lucknow, India - The Global F und to Fight AIDS, Tuberc ulosis and Malaria has approved in principle a landmark US $47 million g rant for a com munity-streng thening programme aimed at reducing the rapid and alarming spread of H IV and AIDS among men w ho have sex w ith men and a mong transge nder people in South Asia.

The grant proposal was submitted by Naz Foundatio n International (NFI), PSI (Population Se rvices International), the United Nations Development Pro gramme Regio nal Center b ased in Colom bo (UNDP RCC), and the South Asian MS M and AIDS Network (SAM AN), a coalition of country level community based organizations ded icated to MSM a nd HIV issues. The five- ye ar project wil l encompass Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. This marks t he first time t he Global Fun d will support a major regional project i n Asia specificall y addressing m en who have s ex with men (MSM), transg ender (TG) an d HIV.

"This is indeed a milestone for both the Global Fund, and those of u s who work o n these issues, " said Shivana nda Khan, NFI Founder and Chief Executiv e. "I speak for all our partners when I say how grateful w e are that the Global Fund has recognized the urgency in co mbating the spread of HIV in these long ma rginalized and still ‘invisible ’ populations. The grant pr ovides South Asia with a pr omising platfo rm which mus t continue to be strengthened by all concerned – governments, internationa l development partners and community partners alike."

"Millions of gay and transgender peop le in South Asia suffer fro m discriminati on in many aspects of their day to day lives. This makes them more vulnerable to HI V and under mines their capacity to cont ribute fully t o their communities and societies." noted Jeff rey O’Malley, Global Direc tor of UNDP’s HIV Group. "This grant reflects the commitment of the i nternational community to su pport the health and human rights of all people, even th e most marginalized."

"The Global Fund grant comes at a time when the M SM HIV epide mic in South A sia is truly at a crossroads," said Andrew Boner, PSI’s Country Represe ntative in Nep al. "Regional HIV prevalenc e rates are diff icult to estimate, but the most recent data for South Asia suggests that between 6% a nd 10% of men have had sex with other men, and up to 90% of men who had sex with ot her men in the last year are a t great risk of HIV infection and transmission. If urgent interventions are not implement ed soon, the window of opportunity to address this crisis effectively will narrow ver y quickly."

Following a review by a n independent technical review panel the proposal was re cently agreed to by the Globa l Fund Board. The Board’ s decision start s the final contract negotiati on phase before the first tran che of funding is released. PSI was named Principal Rec ipient of the grant, and will administer the funding, monitor the progra mme, and provide technical ass istance based on its experien ce working wi th MSM and o ther vulnerable groups in As ia and its wo rldwide experience. As the le ad UN agency on issues relating to HIV a mong MSM, UNDP will wor k on strengthening regional an d sub-regional policy and ad vocacy efforts , while NFI will implement country-specific, communit y strategies for reducing the impact of HIV on MSM and TG person

SAMAN’s partner community based organizations that will help implement the programme at the country level include the Bandhu Social Welfare Society (Bangladesh); the Blue Diamond Society (Nepal); Companions on a Journey (Sri Lanka); India Naz Foundation International (India) and Naz Foundation International (South Asia). As other local organizations are created through the programme, it is expected that they will join SAMAN.

Editor’s Notes:
In May 2009 the Global Fund reaffirmed its commitment to working more closely with men who have sex with men, transgender people and sex workers through the Board level approval of a Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities Strategy.TheStrategy is available online at www.theglobalfund.org/documents/publications/other/SOGI/SOGI_Strategy.pdf

HIV prevalence rates among MSM and TG vary widely from country to country, but the latest data indicate an alarming picture of rapid and unbridled spread in these highly marginalized populations, fuelled by stigma and discrimination, a woeful lack of government attention and public health resources devoted to addressing the crisis. For MSM country snapshots for several South Asian nations, visit the APCOM
website at msmasia.org/
news_article/items/msm_country_snapshots_released_for_15_asia_pacific_countries.html 

Contact Information

ShivanandaKhan
ChiefExecutive NFI
shiv@nfi.net
+91 9839221091

Edmund Settle Regional
HIV PolicySpecialist
UNDP Regional Center Bangkok edmund.settle@undp.orgor
+66 (0) 2288 2918

Anna Dirksen
PSI adirksen@psi.org
202-469-6673

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