amfAR Applauds Release of PEPFAR Guidance for Preventing HIV Among MSM
Implementation, funding, and accountability are now essential for success
For Immediate Release
Cub Barrett, Program Communications Manager
NEW YORK, May 20, 2011—amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, on Friday applauded the U.S. Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC) for releasing guidance on HIV/AIDS prevention programming for men who have sex with men (MSM) and stressed that the next step is to take action on specific guidance recommendations.
The guidance document, “Technical Guidance on Combination HIV Prevention,” includes specifics about services that country programs should provide to help lower incidence of HIV infection among MSM populations. According to the document, a systematic review of data from 38 low- and middle-income countries found that MSM were, on average, 19 times more likely to have HIV than the general population.
“This guidance is the first step to a scaled, comprehensive, and evidence-based program that can truly address the epidemic among MSM,” said amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost. “The challenge now is for PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) to put these guidelines into action and to show real results in bringing down HIV incidence among a group that is so vulnerable to infection.”
Specifically, the guidance recommends a comprehensive set of prevention interventions for MSM and also encourages PEPFAR-funded programs to address punitive laws and stigma that help drive MSM—and a large part of the flourishing HIV/AIDS epidemic—underground and beyond the reach of HIV prevention, treatment, and care. Changing those laws and societal attitudes is critical to the success of programs like PEPFAR, said amfAR MSM Initiative Director Kent Klindera.
“As long as we have countries that either don’t acknowledge their MSM populations or, worse, keep MSM underground due to violence or threats of violence, we have no chance of curbing the epidemic,” Klindera said. “PEPFAR needs to work with local groups and governments to change the way they approach MSM and the HIV response, as this guidance says they will.”
Chris Collins, amfAR’s vice president and director of public policy, highlighted several important next steps for PEPFAR and the Office of the Global Coordinator (OGAC):
- Ensure PEPFAR country teams implement and scale these programs to have measurable impact
- Do much better at monitoring expenditures and programming for MSM
- Create a dedicated funding mechanism for services for MSM and other most at risk populations
- Support community-based MSM and LGBT groups in providing services
- Significantly expand research on how to deliver services to MSM most effectively
“If this guidance is going to be truly effective, PEPFAR needs to send a clear message to the field that resources need to match the epidemic profile, and that groups most at risk receive sufficient attention,” Collins said.
RELATED: Lessons from the Front Lines: Effective Community-Led Responses to HIV and AIDS Among MSM and Transgender Populations (PDF, 2010)
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.