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For Immediate Release
Cub Barrett, Program
NEW YORK, January 18, 2012—Funding to prevent and treat
HIV/AIDS consistently fails to reach programs designed to control the disease
among gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM), according to a new analysis released Wednesday by amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research and the Center for Public Health and Human Rights (CPHHR) at Johns Hopkins University. The report finds that resources dedicated to addressing
the epidemic among MSM are grossly insufficient, and that funding intended for
this population is often diverted away from MSM-related services.
Despite Obama Administration leadership in setting bold new targets to tackle
global AIDS and highlight the human rights of MSM and other sexual minorities,
U.S. government aid intended to prevent and treat HIV infection among MSM
continues to encounter obstacles throughout the world.
The new report, “Achieving an AIDS-Free Generation for Gay Men and Other
MSM,” provides the most comprehensive analysis to date of HIV-related funding
and programming for this population. Focusing on eight countries, the report
finds that national governments have failed to adequately tackle the epidemic
among MSM. The findings are especially dire in countries that criminalize MSM.
In those settings, governments spend fewer resources on HIV-related health
services for MSM, do less to track and understand the epidemic, and are more
likely to repurpose donor funds intended to fight the epidemic among MSM.
International efforts such as the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS
Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria have
made great strides against the global epidemic, including more recent efforts to
reach MSM. Yet these and other donors typically fail to collect and analyze
basic information about the epidemic among MSM. In settings where MSM are
persecuted, this lack of data is often used to justify under-funding and
“These data show an astonishing lack of support for MSM populations around
the world, but most especially in countries where MSM are criminalized and
persecuted,” said amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost. “Gay men and other MSM pioneered
the global response to HIV in developed countries and have contributed
significantly to the development of programs globally. However, they have been
mostly excluded from these very services and programs in the developing world.
This report lays out concrete steps that donors and national governments should
take without delay to address the pandemic among MSM.”
The report examines the progress and shortcomings of PEPFAR, the Global Fund,
and the UNGASS reporting system, managed by UNAIDS, and draws on data collected
from on-the-ground researchers in eight countries: China, Ethiopia, Guyana,
India, Mozambique, Nigeria, Ukraine, and Viet Nam. Using a standardized
evaluation tool, civil society consultants studied the funding and
implementation of MSM-related programming. Each consultant uncovered a range of
issues related to funding allocations and service delivery, providing an
in-depth view of the challenges facing MSM and their access to HIV treatment,
care, and prevention services.
Among their findings:
- With few exceptions, MSM are deprioritized and marginalized by HIV programs
regardless of epidemic type or disease burden. For example, this analysis found
that in Guyana, funding for MSM programs dropped 96% between initial proposal
and final budget.
- Epidemiological surveillance of MSM in many countries is woefully inadequate
to determine the true burden of HIV among MSM. This makes it much more difficult
for international monitors, including UNGASS, to assess the needs of MSM in each
country, and further complicates allocation and monitoring by donors.
- In countries where homosexuality is criminalized, such as Nigeria and
Ethiopia, many MSM forgo seeking medical care out of fear of
government-sanctioned punishment. Despite billions of dollars in funding for HIV
programs, both countries continue to make international headlines for
persecution and violence against MSM.
- Efforts to streamline donor bureaucracy are being undertaken without
consideration of their impact on vulnerable populations. Consolidated funding
streams, broad health systems investments, and reduced reporting requirements
may ultimately undercut efforts to direct money to more effective
In addition to the eight country reports, the overall report also includes
recommendations for national governments, PEPFAR, the Global Fund, and
“For the first time, we have specific data to help us understand why MSM are
omitted from national HIV/AIDS surveillance systems and are subsequently
excluded from HIV/AIDS services in countries that rely on foreign assistance
from international donors,” said Stefan Baral, associate director of the CPHHR
at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “As an international
community, we must take these data and work with donors and governments to
better address the needs of gay men and other MSM throughout the world. We will
never create an ‘AIDS-free generation’ if we don’t get the epidemic under
control among MSM.”
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
About the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at Johns Hopkins
The Center for Public Health and Human Rights at Johns Hopkins
focuses on using the scientific tools of public health to address the health and
rights of populations in need. The Center is active in Asia, Africa, and the
Former Soviet Union and works with sexual minorities, people who use drugs, and
refugees and displaced communities in conflict.