Local languages, global exchange: Digital networking, communication and collaboration for the health and human rights of men who have sex with men

Published: April 15, 2012

Gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are at significantly greater risk for HIV than
the general population in many low- and middle-income countries. In most parts of the world, civil
society organisations are at the front lines of the fight against HIV among MSM, often with little or no
support from local governments. Despite their central role in addressing this public health crisis, many of
these organisations lack crucial information, funding, and connections with high-level partners that are
essential to an effective response. To respond to these challenges, the Global Forum on MSM & HIV
(MSMGF) has developed MSMGF.org, an online platform designed to strengthen the civil society
response to HIV among MSM by increasing grassroots access to timely research, reports and
opportunities, while simultaneously building networks among community members and key decisionmakers.
Using a unique translation system to offer full access in Arabic, Chinese, English, French,
Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish, this innovative platform now has more than 3,000 members from
over 140 countries. Evaluation results indicate that MSMGF.org has enhanced local advocacy efforts
and programmes to provide HIV prevention, care, and treatment for MSM in low- and middle-income
countries. We argue that this platform represents a powerful approach to advocacy and capacity building,
leveraging networked and digital communication and collaboration to provide civil society organisations
with rapid access to valuable knowledge, resources and support to improve the health and human rights
of MSM, particularly in hostile contexts.

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