amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

GRASSROOTS: The GMT Initiative Blog

amfAR's GMT Initiative supports grassroots organizations that respond to the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS among gay men, other men who have sex with men, and transgender individuals (collectively, GMT).

Courage

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Posted by Kent Klindera, September 24, 2012 

Today, I’m in Dhaka, Bangladesh, meeting with colleagues at the Bandu Social Welfare Society (BSWS).  amfAR is funding BSWS as part our “Evidence in Action” project—funded by ViiV Healthcare Positive Action and the Elton John AIDS Foundation in order to increase the knowledge base about effective, community-based HIV/AIDS services for gay men, other men who have sex with men, and transgender individuals (collectively, GMT). 

The project is working with past amfAR grantees in need of more formalized evaluations to scale up their programs. BSWS is pretty amazing, having been around for 15 years serving sexual minorities. For their current project with amfAR, they are tackling very challenging issues in Bangladesh, working with gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) who are living with HIV. 

Bangladesh2 
Staff and beneficiaries at Bandu Social Welfare Society  

I was honored to have lunch with a male couple—very much in love, and both living with HIV. One was a bit more effeminate (he did ALL the talking) and he told me about their struggle to disclose their HIV statuses amongst their families and their community.  In fact, they are living openly as a couple and as HIV people. Pretty amazing considering the double stigma. That is why BSWS is engaging them—to figure out what has made them so courageous, and how they can inspire others

amfAR has secured an external evaluator to work with BSWS and conduct a formal evaluation of the project, which also includes helping GMT living with HIV adhere to medication and find social support. They will also be launching a campaign to reduce HIV stigma (sadly, 30 years into the epidemic, still quite strong in Bangladesh) among GMT individuals in general. Whatever the results of the evaluation, BSWS and amfAR will have data to offer to larger donors—including the Bangladesh Ministry of Health—which will hopefully encourage scale-up investment.  We should have results in about a year, so watch this space!


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