Gender and sexuality: Partners gather for global expert forum in Asia

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Gender and sexuality: Partners gather for global expert forum in Asia

06 October 2009

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A HIV outreach peer worker chats with a transgendered person in Pattaya, Thailand. Credit: UNAIDS/Vinai Dithajoh

Across the world sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender people, and other sexual minority groups are disproportionally affected by HIV yet often face considerable challenges in accessing healthcare and other services.

To address the technical and political challenges of securing resources for these key populations while also supporting strong country ownership, the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (Global Fund), UNAIDS and the Coalition of Asia Pacific Regional Networks on HIV/AIDS is hosting a global expert consultation in Bangkok, 5-7 October 2009.

Mr Prasada Rao, UNAIDS Director for Regional Support Team Asia and the Pacific, earlier opened the Global expert consultation on gender and sexual diversity, emphasising the importance of effective programming for key groups at higher risk of HIV drawing on examples from UNAIDS work in the Asia Pacific region.

Both UNAIDS and Global Fund, by sharpening their policies and priorities with regard to most at risk populations can influence countries to prioritise high impact prevention in their national plans.

Mr Prasada Rao, UNAIDS Director for Regional Support Team Asia and the Pacific

“Both UNAIDS and Global Fund, by sharpening their policies and priorities with regard to most at risk populations can influence countries to prioritise high impact prevention in their national plans.

UNAIDS has identified sexual transmission and removal of punitive laws as priorities in its Outcome Framework 2009-2011. The Global Fund is increasingly moving to funding National Strategic Applications (NSAs) rather than individual proposals. Both these policy shifts will immensely benefit MSM and transgender populations by resource availability for high impact programs,” said Mr Rao.

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Mr Prasada Rao, UNAIDS Director for Regional Support Team Asia and the Pacific, spoke of the importance of effective programming for people at higher risk if HIV when he opened the meeting in Bangkok, 5 October 2009
Credit: UNAIDS

Mr Rao was joined by David Winters, Country Coordinating Mechanism Manager of the Global Fund; and, Vince Crisostomo Regional Coordinator of the Coalition of Asia Pacific Regional Networks on HIV/AIDS as well as representatives of sexual minority groups from around the world. The meeting brings together experts to discuss the implementation of the Global Fund’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities Strategy.

The Strategy, agreed by the Global Fund Board in May 2009, recognizes that key populations at higher risk of HIV face considerable challenges in being able to access or benefit from grants and face social and structural barriers in the realization of their health and rights. The consultation aims to continue collaboration between key partners on work towards resource allocation for activities related to sexual orientation and gender identities. It is also a forum to exchange experiences and practices on these activities in order to achieve a more harmonized AIDS response.

Progress in securing greater investment in HIV programming for sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender people, and other sexual minority groups requires a strong partnership approach.

Mr Andy Seale, Senior Adviser for Sexual and Gender Diversity at the Global Fund

Andy Seale, Senior Adviser for Sexual and Gender Diversity at the Global Fund, said: “Progress in securing greater investment in HIV programming for sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender people, and other sexual minority groups requires a strong partnership approach. We need to ensure that the same diverse partners that helped develop the Global Fund’s sexual orientation and gender identities strategy are now active in demonstrating leadership in addressing the technical and political challenges of its implementation. This meeting brings together a number of key partners in this effort.”

The consultation, is jointly organised by UNAIDS, the Global Fund and the Coalition of Asia Pacific Regional Networks on HIV/AIDS. The Global Fund finances nearly a quarter of all international spending on AIDS and two-thirds of global spending on malaria and TB. UNAIDS plays a unique link role in this effort by strengthening partnerships across sectors, including within civil society and communities.   

The Coalition of Asia Pacific Regional Networks on HIV/AIDS is a broad-based alliance that brings together seven regional networks that have experience and expertise in initiating and implementing programmes dealing with affected communities and vulnerable populations. The Network builds upon partnerships to ensure effective responses at grassroots level.