Top 10 in 2011: Key Global Policy Developments Concerning MSM & HIV

Published: January 24, 2012

Inside this report, you will find a snapshot summary of the top 10 key policy developments over the past year that relate to the HIV response among gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) worldwide. Ranked by the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF), the list includes both successes and setbacks in the global effort to achieve Universal Access for all. Taking stock of these developments is essential for evolving our response to the HIV epidemic among MSM, strengthening community mobilization efforts on the ground, and sharpening our global advocacy efforts. The list also includes events that were not direct policy developments in and of themselves but carry significant policy implications. This page summarizes the developments contained in the report.

  • Groundbreaking Epidemiological Research: Historically stymied by the lack of political will, surveillance research on gay men and other MSM is now underway in countries where little or no data existed before. This new data indicates that HIV is affecting a far greater proportion of gay men and other MSM than the general population in nearly every corner of the globe. Much of this research was assembled in a groundbreaking new World Bank report (Key Development #10), representing the most comprehensive study yet to emerge in this area of research.
  • New Technical Guidance: As we deepen our understanding of the way HIV affects MSM around the world, the need to respond with expediency, specificity and sensitivity is greater than ever. In 2011, both the World Health Organization (Key Development #8) and the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Key Development #4) released important technical guidance to increase the effectiveness of HIV responses targeted at MSM by national health systems and health service organizations.
  • HIV Drug Patent Rights: Access to HIV treatment remains out of reach for many people living with HIV worldwide, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Tensions flared in 2011 as the Medicines Patent Pool signed a controversial agreement with the for-profit pharmaceutical company Gilead, causing a backlash from communities of people living with HIV around the world (Key Development #9).
  • Grassroots Advocacy Interventions: Responding to misinformed top-down policies implemented by governments and other large institutions, 2011 saw a number of noteworthy interventions from grassroots community activists:
    • Community members spoke out on the relationship between the legal environment and HIV in the annual report of the NGO Delegation to the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board, presented to Member States and United Nations Co-Sponsors (Key Development #6).
    • In a strong showing of solidarity, African social justice activists came together to oppose donor aid-conditionality regarding the violation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights (Key Development #5).
    • At regional AIDS conferences around the world, MSM advocates organized powerful interventions despite threats and human rights abuses (Key Development #3).
  • Road to Universal Access – Progress and Challenges: Two years ago, the global AIDS field suffered a major defeat when UN Member States failed to meet their target of Universal Access for all by 2010. This past year saw some of this lost momentum regained in new commitments from governments at the June 2011 United Nations High-Level Meeting on AIDS, including the explicit mention of MSM in the meeting’s outcome declaration for the first time (Key Development #2). In addition, the unveiling of a new strategic investment framework in the pages of The Lancet promised cost-efficiencies and major health gains, bringing us that much closer to the goal of Universal Access (Key Development #7). However, the road to Universal Access remains rife with uncertainty as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria retracted plans to launch Round 11 due to a USD 2.2 billion shortfall in resource forecasts, driven down by donors failing to honor their funding pledges. (Key Development #1).

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