amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

New amfAR Awards Help Grassroots Groups Reach High-Risk Populations and Combat HIV in Asia-Pacific Region

Focusing on MSM and transgender individuals, awards boost HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, testing, and treatment efforts


NEW YORK, October 18, 2011—As men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender individuals in many parts of the world face increasing risk of HIV infection, amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research on Tuesday announced a fourth round of Asia-Pacific community awards made through its MSM Initiative, designed to support frontline groups working directly with local MSM and transgender populations.

The eight Asia-Pacific awards, which will provide funding for HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, testing, and treatment services, range from approximately $12,000 to $20,000 each.

See the full list of amfAR’s fourth round of Asian-Pacific community awards made through its MSM Initiative 

“We’re following the trajectory of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and are focusing on high-risk groups, especially MSM and transgender individuals, by working directly with grassroots organizations throughout entire regions,” said Kent Klindera, director of the MSM Initiative. “HIV rates among young MSM in the Asia-Pacific region have been growing exponentially in the past few years, so investing in community organizations who know their own populations is vital to curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS in these regions.”

In Asia and the Pacific—where about 4.9 million people were living with HIV in 2009, according to UNAIDS—funded projects include educating HIV serodiscordant couples (where one partner is HIV-positive and the other is HIV-negative) in Beijing, China, and collecting data about HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis B prevalence in high-risk MSM in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Additionally, several of the Asia-Pacific grantees will work directly with local transgender populations, which are often overlooked in HIV and other sexual health outreach programs. In Lahore, Pakistan, an organization comprising transgender community leaders receive instruction on health issues and concerns of their local populations; in Chengdu, China, funding will help establish the first formalized transgender community-based organization in China; and in Hanoi, Vietnam, a direct service project will seek to reduce the risk of HIV infection among transgender women by increasing their knowledge and skills.

“As homophobia and stigma continue to marginalize MSM around the world, we’re confident that amfAR’s MSM Initiative is making a difference for this vulnerable population,” said amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost. “amfAR is proud of its grassroots partner organizations for helping us reach MSM and transgender individuals in ways that are having a real impact.”

Since inception in 2007, amfAR’s MSM Initiative has made 141 community awards totaling more than US$2.6 million to support 104 frontline organizations serving MSM in 64 countries. Awards have been made in low- and middle-income countries in five regions of the world: Africa, Asia-Pacific, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe/Central Asia, and Latin America.

Studies show that the need for such work is critical: A 2007 analysis of data from 38 low- and middle-income countries showed that MSM are 19 times more likely to be infected with HIV than the general population. These rates are consistent across the globe, even in African nations that have generalized epidemics. Yet according to United Nations estimates, by late 2007, a mere eight percent of MSM had been reached by comprehensive HIV prevention programs.

About amfAR
amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, is one of the world’s leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to the support of AIDS research, HIV prevention, treatment education, and the advocacy of sound AIDS-related public policy. Since 1985, amfAR has invested nearly $325 million in its programs and has awarded grants to more than 2,000 research teams worldwide.


Asia Community Awards– 2011-2012

Beijing Ark of Love PLWHA Supporting Group (Beijing, China) - $15,000
HIV Prevention and Empowerment Among Serodiscordant MSM Couples in China
This direct service project will address the HIV prevention needs of HIV serodiscordant MSM couples (i.e., one partner is HIV-positive and the other HIV-negative).  Through a series of self-help sessions and discussions focusing on healthy relationships and positive sexuality among people living with HIV/AIDS, a training program and brochures will be developed to reach MSM directly in Beijing. The program will also serve as a model to be used throughout China. (Guangzhou, China) - $12,000
Internet-Based Advocacy and Empowerment of Sexual Health Rights for MSM Youth
This direct service and advocacy project will influence the Guangdong MSM Internet community, working to reduce self-discrimination and self-stigma, as well as promoting sexual rights and gender identity. Utilizing MSM “oral histories,” the project aims to promote health, reduce HIV/STI risk behavior, and provide a programmatic base to halt the HIV epidemic.

PT Foundation (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – $18,600
MSM and TG Sexual Health Profile Study in Kuala Lumpur
This community-led research project aims to estimate the seroprevalence of HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis B in the high-risk segment of the MSM population of Kuala Lumpur. Utilizing a clinic-based sample, the project will also provide free treatment or vaccinations, where appropriate.

AIDS Awareness Society (AAS) (Lahore, Pakistan) - $19,148
Capacity-Building of Transgender Alliance in Pakistan/Ittehad Bara-e-Haqooq-e-Khawaja Sira, Pakistan
Responding to a newly formed alliance of transgender persons – Ithad Bara-e-Haqooq-e-Khawaja Sira, Pakistan (IBHKSP) – this direct service and capacity-building project will build the skill sets of transgender community leaders to promote health and self-help while also addressing other social, political, and economic issues. Through this work, the group hopes to become a unified voice for transgender rights in Pakistan.

Vietnamese Community Mobilisation Center for HIV/AIDS Control (VICOMC) – (Hanoi, Vietnam) - $19,700
Hanoi Transgender Women's Support and HIV Prevention Project
This direct service project aims to reduce the risk of HIV infection among transgender women in Hanoi by creating a supportive environment for them, increasing their HIV/AIDS knowledge and skills, and working to make HIV/AIDS services more accessible by reducing stigma attached to transgender women.

Chengdu Gay Care (Chengdu, China) - $19,970
PCA, Empowerment, Advocacy:  Improve the Living Status of TG in Chengdu, China
This research, direct service, and advocacy project will implement a participatory community assessment of the transgender community in Chengdu, and work to establish the first formalized transgender community-based organization in China. The project will also promote the inclusion of transgender persons in the local and national HIV/AIDS prevention strategies. 

Name Withheld (Sri Lanka) - $15,567
HIV Intervention in Male Massage Centers
The organization will work with owners and workers of male massage centers in a major Sri Lankan city to increase knowledge and reduce risk behavior related to HIV/STIs. Male masseur leaders and managers will be trained to carry out the program in the future, including linkages to regular HIV/STI testing mechanisms and access to condoms and lubricants.  Finally, the organization will also share lessons learned from the project in discussions with national HIV/AIDS coordinating agencies. 

The Human Rights Education Institute of Burma (HREIB) – Chiang Mai/Ranong, Thailand - $19,958
Supporting Burmese MSM Migrant Workers in Southern Thailand – Year 2
This direct service project aims to support peer educators who are currently teaching sexual health-related knowledge and risk-reduction skills, increasing access to healthcare and vocational training, and promoting basic human rights among Burmese migrant MSM and transgender persons living in Ranong, Thailand.