MSMGF Applauds a Decade of Progress on HIV and MSM at the Global Fund

Published: January 24, 2012

For Immediate Release
Media Contact:

Jack Beck
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MSMGF Applauds a Decade of Progress on
HIV and MSM at the Global Fund

Donor and Implementing Governments Must Step-Up Support
during Critical Transition Period

January 24, 2012 – The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) applauds the progress made by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as the innovative global financing mechanism marks its tenth anniversary this week. In particular, the MSMGF congratulates the bold leadership and contributions of the Global Fund’s Executive Director Dr. Michel Kazatchkine, who announced his departure from the Global Fund earlier today due to significant changes taking place within the organization. Dr. Kazatchkine’s willingness to run a transparent, self-reflective organization has elevated the standard of international work on AIDS, raising the bar for the newly appointed General Manager, Gabriel Jaramillo, as he guides the Global Fund through a challenging transition period and implementation of the Fund’s new 2012-2016 strategic plan. 

Over the last decade, the Global Fund’s prioritization of human rights, country-driven approaches, and high technical standards has made a significant impact on the lives of gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in low- and middle-income countries. In addition to providing life-saving HIV treatment since its inception, the Global Fund developed a targeted strategy to address issues concerning Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI), hired a Senior Advisor to oversee the SOGI strategy’s implementation, and designated USD 200 million over five years to be dedicated specifically to most-at-risk populations.

“The Global Fund stands out for its pioneering leadership in addressing concentrated epidemics among key populations,” said MSMGF Executive Director Dr. George Ayala. “Not only did the Global Fund establish a solid strategy to address issues concerning MSM and other key populations, it mobilized the man-power and financial resources necessary for the strategy to make an impact on the ground. That is the kind of commitment required to end this epidemic.” 

Increasingly, funders and other key stakeholders are recognizing the importance of HIV programs that target key populations, but analyses of actual funding allocations show that investments in HIV prevention for MSM remain abysmally low. A review conducted by the MSMGF in 2010 revealed that less than 2% of HIV prevention funding across 44 low and middle-income countries was dedicated to MSM.

“In a time of fiscal recession, smart, evidence-based investments are more important than ever,” said Dr. Mohan Sundararaj, MSMGF Policy Associate. “Most funders do not even track the amount of money they have dedicated to key populations. By contrast, the Global Fund has created a specific funding mechanism for the express purpose of supporting this work.  Research has shown that targeted investments are essential for an effective HIV response, and the Global Fund is one of the few large donors that have translated this policy into action.”

The past several months have been a time of great transition for the Global Fund. The MSMGF commends the Global Fund for its decision to undergo an audit by a High Level Independent Review Panel, for making the results of the Panel’s report public, and for taking action to adopt a new strategic framework that addresses the Panel’s recommendations. The MSMGF and other civil society advocacy networks rely on the transparency of donor organizations and other decision-makers to hold stakeholders accountable for their work on HIV. 

Unfortunately, this very transparency has played an outsize role as some governments debate the continuation of their support to the Global Fund. In August, 2011 the Global Fund decided to cancel its eleventh round of funding largely because global donors failed to live up to replenishment pledges. The cancellation of Round 11 has meant that USD 1.6 billion worth of new health programs envisioned for the years 2011-2013 cannot be implemented, including programs dedicated to most-at-risk populations.

“The Global Fund has been a lifeline for millions of people, especially for marginalized groups whose health has not been prioritized by their own governments,” said Othman Mellouk, Co-Chair of the MSMGF.  “In many countries, HIV programs for MSM, people who inject drugs, sex workers, and transgender people would simply not exist without the Global Fund. This is an organization that has worked hard to ensure that silence and stigma do not stand in the way of good public health policy or human rights."

On the Global Fund’s tenth anniversary, the MSMGF encourages the sustained promotion of thoughtful, measured approaches as the agency enters this transition period.  We join advocates and stakeholders around the world in support of the continuation of a robust, accountable Global Fund that prioritizes locally-driven responses. We call on donor governments to increase their commitments and pledges to the Global Fund during this critical transition period. We urge resource-ready countries not yet donating to the Global Fund to commit support. And we call on implementing governments to proactively increase their investments in their own health infrastructures, working towards the in-country sustainability of Global Fund programs, especially as they relate to rights-based responses targeting MSM, people who inject drugs, sex workers and transgender people.

The Global Fund has prioritized public health, human rights, and transparency in its first decade. The MSMGF will be watching closely to ensure that these principles are upheld and expanded, and that meaningful civil society engagement continues to be a core operating principle of the agency as it moves forward.

The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) is an expanding network of AIDS organizations, MSM networks, and advocates committed to ensuring robust coverage of and equitable access to effective HIV prevention, care, treatment, and support services tailored to the needs of gay men and other MSM. Guided by a Steering Committee of 20 members from 18 countries situated mainly in the Global South, and with administrative and fiscal support from AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), the MSMGF works to promote MSM health and human rights worldwide through advocacy, information exchange, knowledge production, networking, and capacity building.

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