New same sex and transgender Action Framework
15 May 2009
Ahead of the International Day Against Homophobia (17 May), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched a new UNAIDS Action Framework on Universal Access for Men who have Sex with Men and for Transgender People. The Framework sets out how UNAIDS will facilitate and support universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for men who have sex with men and transgender people.
Acknowledging that ‘business as usual’ is no longer a viable response to the HIV-related risks of these groups, the Framework shows that collective responses to HIV in the men who have sex with men and transgender populations are failing. The problem has either been ignored – with insufficient data and analysis – or commitment and resources allocated to HIV programming in these populations fall far short of what is required.
“The failure to respond effectively has allowed HIV rates to reach crisis levels in many communities of men who have sex with men and transgender people,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “Efforts to reverse this crisis must be grounded in human rights and underpinned by the decriminalisation of homosexuality,” he added.
The failure to respond effectively has allowed HIV rates to reach crisis levels in many communities of men who have sex with men and transgender people.
Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS
The approach taken in the Framework aims to reduce the incidence of HIV everywhere, while protecting the health and rights of not only men who have sex with men and transgender people, but also their female sexual partners and the rest of the population. Responding to HIV among marginalized groups is therefore not just important in and of itself, it is often one of the most effective strategies to reduce heterosexual spousal transmission and to avert larger heterosexual epidemics. Universal access to appropriate HIV programmes for men who have sex with men and transgender people is a crucial part of achieving universal access as a whole.
“If we are going to make universal access for sexual minorities a meaningful reality, we must work towards ending homophobia and transphobia. We must address the legal and policy barriers,” said Jeffery O’Malley, Director of UNDP’s HIV group.
The Framework sets out how the UNAIDS Secretariat and its Cosponsors will work towards universal access for these often marginalized groups through three objectives:
(1) To improve the human rights situation for men who have sex with men and transgender people. In his statement to the International AIDS Conference in August 2008, the UN Secretary-General outlined the dangers of not protecting the legal and human rights of sex workers, drug users, and men who have sex with men, pointing out that in countries where such rights are enshrined in law, the result is fewer infections, less demand for antiretroviral treatment and fewer deaths.
(2) To strengthen and promote the evidence base on men who have sex with men, transgender people and HIV. Better quality data, from as wide a range of sources as necessary, is needed to inform, develop and advocate new policies and programmatic responses. UNAIDS and its Cosponsors will build upon their current work with partners to strengthen the knowledge base.
(3) To strengthen capacity and promote partnerships to ensure broader and better responses for men who have sex with men, transgender people and HIV. Ensuring sufficient capacity in intergovernmental, governmental and nongovernmental organizations to appropriately address diverse sexuality and HIV is vital if men who have sex with men and transgender people are to get universal access to HIV-related services. The Framework sets out how the scale-up of capacity can be achieved.
The joint UNAIDS programme, utilizing the strengths of all its Cosponsors, is committing itself to interagency UNAIDS action to improve global and national HIV-related efforts for men who have sex with men and transgender people.
An interagency working group will develop a system to monitor and evaluate the approach and work proposed in the Framework, develop the strategic approach of UNAIDS and its Cosponsors’, develop, monitor and evaluate detailed workplans, periodically review and evaluate their strategic approach and report on the activities undertaken.