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New Guidance To Improve The HIV Response For Men Who Have Sex With Men In Africa

March 23, 2010

'Responding to the HIV-related needs of MSM in Africa', is a new guide launched today by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance. It is to support those responsible for improving local and national HIV responses among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Africa, by increasing their understanding about MSM and their needs.

Sex between men is a sensitive issue across the continent. In many African countries it is illegal and in some places it carries the death penalty. Fear, stigma and discrimination mean it is difficult to reach MSM with HIV prevention, treatment and care.

John Howson is one of the authors. "The Alliance has been working with MSM communities in Africa for years. Recent evidence highlights the high prevalence among MSM but this information has not translated into support of effective programmes or the allocation of resources to meet the challenge. Through our Africa Regional Programme, supported by the Swedish Government, we wanted to assist all those organisations, groups and communities who work on HIV to develop more effective responses to the HIV related needs of MSM."

To be effective, MSM need to be actively involved in the design, planning and implementation of interventions as well as the evaluation of their impact. But this rarely happens.

The guidance helps participants, through a workshop setting, explore their own attitudes and feelings about working with MSM to help increase understanding and decrease prejudice and fear. It helps participants identify what is already being done which could be adapted, as well spot the gaps in the current response so a course of action can be planned in response to their local situations.

"Responding to the needs of MSM presents many challenges not least because active participation of MSM is often blocked by decision makers at national and local levels," explained John. "Often opinions, values, religious beliefs, ignorance and prejudices hinder effective HIV responses that should be grounded in public health and human rights principles."

Notes

- The International HIV/AIDS Alliance is a global partnership of organisations supporting communities to reduce the spread of HIV and meet the challenge of AIDS. http://www.aidsalliance.org.

- In 2008, 22.4 million people were living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa and 1.9 million were newly infected. 1.4 million people died from AIDS-related deaths.

- For a copy of 'Responding to the HIV-related needs of MSM in Africa' please go here.

Source
International HIV/AIDS Alliance


Tags: HIV Guidance, Men in Africa


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