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Cross posted from ITPC List
Gregg Gonsalves <gregg.gonsalves@...>
Word is, is that the US engineered the resignation of Michel and the
appointment of the banker to the general manager position at the
Global Fund, while the civil society delegations were
deer-in-the-headlights, watching as they did with the Board decision
to cancel Round 11.
Are we supposed to agree now that with a financial executive in charge
now, donors will come streaming back to the Fund?
Misappropriation of Global Fund monies were never but a small percentage of
grants, the Fund was public about all of it. USAID runs
billions of dollars through its system every year with absolutely no
transparency whatsoever, with its pet monster NGOs sucking up large
chunks of it.
Meanwhile the Fund's OIG--the Inspector General is a power-mad
fanatic, slowing down grants disbursement, creating messes for people
on the ground with his over-zealous notion of oversight.
This is all such a hot mess.
100 York Street
University Towers, 10-D
New Haven, CT 06511
Email: gregg.gonsalves@... or gregg.gonsalves@...
While we all can agree that global funding for HIV and health is in
trouble, what exactly is the reason for this trouble. Sure we all know
about the global economic crisis and its consequences. But really, wasnt this
going to happen anyway. The world economy will have its ups and downs and its
best that we recognize this early than late.
But really, did any of us look at what we did with the money we got during the
gravy period. After *all this wasnt just money, it was life saving resources.
Lifelines for people in desperate trouble*. We moved billions and spent them. I
still can find good estimates of what actually made it to the people that needed
them. Funding for HIV moved with huge transaction costs for governments, NGOs
and any other civil society organizations.
Wonder how much actually got to the people who needed them. Just to give you a
flavor, we did cost utility analysis of some of programs in Pakistan and found
that costs of HIV prevention programs for MARPs ran 250-2500% higher than unit
cost estimates. Is this true elsewhere - actually, I dont know because I havent
seen much of this kind of analysis.
So now that the gravy train has slowed down, maybe its time to take stock.
Lets review how the money is spent. Money is there and can still save a lot of
lives, probably just as many (or more) than during the gravy days. Can we reduce
the costs we impose and allow resources to reach those actually need them, the
people in whose name we are asking for the money.
My question to the activists out there is: does activism just stop with
generating funds or is there a responsibility to the people in whose name we ask
for money. If the answer is yes, then should we not ask for more accountability
and not less.
As for poor tools for accountability, isnt this a chicken and egg problem.
We havent really asked for accountability and perhaps even thwarted any attempts
at it, is it a surprise then that there are coarse and blunt tools to account
for fund flows and to measure progress. These things are organic (like good
civil society responses that they monitor) and must learn from experience.
Absent good programmatic monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, accountants step
in and the results are predictable. Perhaps the short funding will give impetus
for developing good monitoring practices.
Perhaps the activists can advocate for these to the civil society and NGOs that
they have kept on the gravy trains for so long.
Title: HIV epidemic looming large, lawmaker warns
AN HIV-AIDS epidemic is a big possibility because the government has failed to
allocate enough funds for contraceptives and programs aimed at preventing the
spread of the disease in the country, Gabriela Womens party-list Rep.
Luzviminda Ilagan said Monday.
Ilagan, vice chairman of the House committee on women and gender equality, said
the Philippines also was likely to fail to meet is sixth Millennium Development
Goal of halting and reversing the spread of HIV-AIDS by 2015.
She aired her concern following a 50-percent increase in new HIV infections in
the past 10 years and the decreasing local and foreign funding for anti-AIDS
programs in the country.
The Philippine coordinator of the United Nations Program on HIV-AIDS, Teresita
Marie Bagasao, disclosed the increase in infections and the funding problem in a
report in a bid to intensify the fight against HIV-AIDS.
The country has been receiving $20.4 million (about P890 million) in grants from
the Global Fund to boost its not-so-successful Getting to Zero campaign
A report says the top recipients of Global Fund releases to combat HIV-AIDS are
Ethiopia ($560 million), India ($385 million) and Tanzania ($364 million). Next
are Thailand ($174 million), Cambodia ($111 million), Indonesia ($85 million)
and Vietnam ($27 million).
Ilagan said the HIV-AIDS problem was expected to get worse as a result of
Congress failure to pass the Reproductive Health bill.
Based on records from the House committee on health, 2,349 new HIV/AIDS cases
were reported nationwide in 2011, including an unprecedented 268 infections in
The new infections were up 48 percent from the 1,591 cases reported in 2010.
I dont see that the government can comply or meet this [Millennium Development
Goal] target because the government and Congress are not doing concrete steps to
address this problem, Ilagan said.
She blamed the increase in HIV-AIDS cases on males having unprotected sex with
males and drug users sharing contaminated needles.
HIV causes AIDS, which destroys the human bodys immune system. It does not have
any known cure, although anti-retroviral treatments can slow its advance.
At least 271 Filipinos workers overseas were known to have been infected with
HIV in 2011, which was up 56 percent from the 174 infections reported in 2010.
The new cases brought to 1,794 the number of Filipino workers abroad who were
found to have been HIV-positive or with full-blown AIDS since 1984
Dr. Ritu Mahendru
HIV+? Don't worry, some UAE clinics won't tell authorities: Many clinics suspect
of not informing health authority about positive cases
By Bindu Suresh Rai
A friendly voice over the phone informed this reporter that HIV testing was a
very normal procedure in Dubai, with a simple blood test was all it took to
determine your fate.
The questions were being posed to a staff member of one of the leading medical
clinics in Dubai, which, among other lab work, specialises in STD testing.
However, as soon as this reporter quizzed about the standard procedure adopted
if a person tested positive for HIV, the call was immediately transferred to
another member of staff, who in a hushed tone, informed us that results would be
strictly between doctor and patient for an extra fee. When probed further, the
helpful staff member assured us that no information would be leaked out to any
`official authority' considering the testing was done on the premises itself and
confidentiality would be adopted.
A few phone calls later, this reporter had been dished out a similar response at
some of the city's top medical clinics, with a secondary option of paying a
higher fee to have the blood sample sent to the United Kingdom for testing.
In the second option, the results would be sealed and couriered to the clinic in
Dubai, with a weeklong lag time as opposed to the two-day wait if tested
locally, and handed over to the patient without being opened by the medical
In a country where UAE is very specific on reporting on patients suffering from
HIV or Aids, are clinics openly flagging the federal law?
When approached, a Ministry of Health spokesperson told 'Emirates24|7': "The
Federal Law No 27 of 1981 concerning the prevention of communicable diseases
where article three states on notifying the health administration/authority on
the discovery of any of the notifiable diseases. This includes all population,
both citizens and non-citizens. Once a suspected case is notified due to
positive screening test, a confirmatory investigations is done and then each
case will be managed accordingly."
Speaking to a local doctor on the condition of anonymity, he said: "If clinics
indeed are performing HIV tests on the sly and not informing authorities, as per
the law, then such a act is despicable to say the least.
"Surely, they are palming extra money to keep mum about the results, if they
indeed are positive."
According to reports, expats who are diagnosed as HIV positive are deported from
the UAE, while steps are being taken by the authorities to integrate citizens
who test positive into the community.
Social worker, Ansitha Mayur said: "The growing concern is creating HIV
awareness amongst the citizens. Many are unaware of it and its ramifications,
while others are too concerned of the social stigma attached to it and are
willing to pay the extra amount to ensure doctors stay mum about their results."
According to statistics provided by the Ministry of Health, an accumulative
total of 660 HIV cases among citizens had been reportedsince the beginning of
HIV registering in the country in the 1980s till the end of 2010.
In 2010, there were 25 new HIV cases reported to the MOH in which 21 were males.
"Hear our voice" say young people from key affected populations in Asia-Pacific
07 February 2012
24-year old Ayu Oktariani from Indonesia who is living with HIV is part of the
Youth LEAD network for key affected populations.
When Palitha Wijebandara from Sri Lanka found out he had tested positive for
HIV, he was shocked and confused. He had been tested as part of a company policy
at his work, without his specific consent or proper counseling, and he did not
understand the implications of his test result.
Palitha is one of many thousands of people in Asia and the Pacific who have
faced the challenge of discovering their HIV status in their youth. At only 23
years old, he was alone. He did not know how to face his family. He feared
discovery of his status and of the fact that he had been having relations with
In Asia and the Pacific, evidence indicates that 95% of all new HIV infections
in young people in the region are among young people from key affected
populationsyoung people who buy and sell sex, young men who have sex with men,
young transgender persons and adolescent drug users.
Specific data on young people at higher risk of HIV in the region is sparse. But
estimates that do exist give cause for concern. In some Asian countries, three
out of five female sex workers, and almost half of all men who have sex with
men, are younger than 25 years. In the Lao People's Democratic Republic, 82% of
sex workers are in that age group. In Nepal, half of all people who inject drugs
start injecting in their late adolescence, when they are between 15 and 21 years
old. By the time someone has been injecting for a year, there is a 33% chance
that they will have acquired HIV.
Despite high vulnerability to HIV infection, young people at higher risk find it
difficult to obtain information on HIV, sterile injecting equipment, or other
services such as HIV testing and support. Across Asia-Pacific, programmes
focusing specifically on young people most at risk are often scarce.
"Prevention campaigns don't reach out to young female sex workers as often we do
not come out to access the information, and if we do, it doesn't speak to us,"
said Ms Fulmaya*, a young sex worker from Nepal.
"As a young gay man, some things are hard to say openly and you worry that if
you say those things, people will discriminate against you. The first time I
wanted to get an HIV test, I had no idea where to get it and I was too scared to
go to the hospital," said Xiao Chen*, 21, from China.
Stigma, the criminalization of certain behaviours and other legal hindrances
mean that young people from key populations at higher risk are often difficult
to reach. In many countries, taking an HIV test, going on HIV treatment, or
using reproductive health or harm-reduction services requires the consent of a
parent or guardian.
"I can't get the free HIV test because I don't want my mother to know what I'm
doing and so I cannot provide the clinic with parental consent. All I want is to
know my HIV status," said Bugoi a transgender sex worker from the Philippines.
Many adolescents find sexually transmitted infection clinics and HIV clinics
intimidating, and feel uncomfortable talking about personal issues with clinical
staff who are much older than them, and who can be judgmental. Harm-reduction
programmes for drug users generally focus on male adults, despite statistics
that show some young drug users start injecting as early as 12 years old and the
fact that young women also need services.
"I have heard of organizations that give out needles but many are far and they
only target the boys," explained Payal, an 18 year old woman from Nepawho uses
An often-expressed frustration of young people from key populations at higher
risk in Asia is that they often feel they are robbed of the voice to describe,
discuss and alter their realities.
"Young people have plenty to say, but their voices aren't heard. I think if
people paid more attention to HIV and strengthened the voice of the community a
bit, more people would learn about HIV and understand the issues and what we
need," Xiao Chen* said.
Time to lead
Some significant action is being taken to bring the voice of young key affected
populations to the foreground organizations and networks of young people from
key populations at higher risk are gradually becoming strengthened.
Sri Lankan Palitha Wijebandara, who discovered his status through an
unauthorized HIV test, drew strength from his involvement in peer support and,
recently, from his efforts to promote the rights of young people from key
populations at risk through Youth LEAD. This Asia Pacific regional network set
up in 2010 is helping develop youth leadership in key populations at higher risk
to strengthen their involvement in community, national and regional programmes.
Representatives from Youth LEAD and other youth at risk organizations are
increasingly being able to take their place at the table in regional policy
arenas and debates.
We need to be empowered and supported so that we can take ownership of AIDS. We
are here to say please include us, listen to us, work with us and together we
can achieve great things
24-year old Ayu Oktariani from Indonesia
From 6-8 February in Bangkok, Thailand, the need for increased focus on and
involvement of young people from key affected populations in the Asia-Pacific
AIDS response is one of the central areas of discussion at a high-level United
Nations meeting. Young people from key affected populations are joining
government leaders and senior officials from across Ministries of health,
justice, law enforcement, social development and drug control agencies as well
as their older civil society counterparts from key affected populations and
people living with HIV to address legal and policy barriers that impede access
to HIV services in the region.
According to UNAIDS Director of the Regional Support Team for Asia and the
Pacific, Steve Kraus, the regional UN gathering on AIDS provides the ideal
opportunity for young people from key communities to "Be loud, be heard and be
honest about the critical things you need to make Getting to Zero a reality in
For 24-year old Ayu Oktariani from Indonesia who is living with HIV, and
participating in the Bangkok meeting with Youth LEAD, the message is simple: "We
need to be empowered and supported so that we can take ownership of AIDS. We are
here to say please include us, listen to us, work with us and together we can
achieve great things."
A longer version of this feature first appeared in the UNAIDS publication: HIV
in Asia and the Pacific - Getting to Zero, August 2011.
New rule on HIV disclosure
By Shan Juan (China Daily)
BEIJING - HIV-positive men and women in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region may
soon be required by law to tell partners their status the moment their test
results are known.
The regulation, still in draft form, is expected to take effect in six months,
said Ge Xianmin, director of HIV/AIDS prevention and control at the local health
It stipulates that the sufferer has to tell his or her partners within three
days of being confirmed as HIV positive. If not, this would be done by health
"Given that Guangxi has been hit relatively hard by HIV/AIDS and that sex has
become a major transmission route, such rules would help protect sufferers'
partners and avert secondary transmissions," he said.
It also helps partners to supervise sufferers' treatments, he added.
Of the total of HIV cases detected last year in Guangxi, about 87 percent were
infected through unsafe sex, both homosexual and heterosexual.
Only the northwestern province of Gansu has a similar rule, which was introduced
Xiao Dong, leader of a civil organization committed to HIV/AIDS control in
Beijing, backed the regulation.
"The sufferer should inform their partners because one's life is more important
than personal freedom. We mustn't satisfy our selfishness by harming other's
lives," he said.
But Meng Lin, an AIDS patient in Beijing, believes regulation is an intrusion of
"I don't think the Guangxi regulation should make health institutions inform
sexual partners of someone's HIV-positive status if that person refuses to do
so," he said.
Meanwhile, to keep better track of HIV carriers for the provision of support and
medication, the new regulation will require people to show identification before
undergoing HIV screening, which gives preliminary results in 15 minutes subject
to laboratory confirmation.
Ge said many people simply disappeared after screenings showed positive results,
which made follow-up counseling and treatment very difficult.
Xiao Dong said: "We should respect people's choice of whether to give personal
information or not. Not everybody going for a HIV screening is prepared to face
up to the impact on their lives if it proves positive and they will be less
stressed going anonymously."
Meng Lin warned: "Given HIV/AIDS discrimination and stigma are still rife here,
it will drive more potential sufferers away and lead to more inaccurate
statistics about the epidemic."
In most parts of China, only confirmatory tests require ID registrations, said
Wu Zunyou, director of the National Center for AIDS and Sexually Transmitted
Diseases Control and Prevention.
In Yunnan province and Beijing, people have to present ID for screenings.
However, in Beijing, which issued the rule last year, this has led to a big drop
in the number going for HIV screenings.
Huang Feifei in Guangxi and Wang Qingyun in Beijing contributed to this story.
--- On Thu, 9/2/12, Avnish Jolly <avnishjolly@...> wrote:
Health official calls for real-name HIV testinghttp://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2012-02/08/c_131398944.htm#.TzLB9e_VYgY.email
BEIJING, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- A senior health official on Wednesday advocated the use of real-name HIV testing, stating that the tests will be beneficial for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS.
Wang Yu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, made the remark at a press conference held by the
Ministry of Health on Wednesday in response to a question about a controversial piece of legislation that may soon be approved in south Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.
A draft regulation on HIV/AIDS prevention is expected to be handed over to the standing committee of the region's local people's congress for approval. The regulation states that HIV tests should be carried out on a real-name basis, with those who test positive obliged to inform their spouses or sex partners.
"HIV carriers might spread the virus to others through unprotected sex or other channels. Under such circumstances, should we protect the privacy of the carriers, or control the epidemic and protect public health?" Wang said.
Wang said he believes that real-name testing could ensure that those who test positive are informed in time, allowing them to change their behavior and seek early treatment.
Wang said international practices have shown that by
simply informing people of their HIV-positive status, the odds of them passing HIV on to others can be reduced by 70 percent.
Wang said professionals in the field have increasingly realized that treatment itself is the best form of prevention. If HIV carriers are given antiviral treatments in time, the intensity of their infection can be lowered, as well as the chance that they will pass the infection on to others.
"Without real-name testing, none of this work can be accomplished. The carriers themselves might not even be informed," Wang said.
Wang said public health policies in China and abroad are aimed at eliminating discrimination against HIV carriers, adding that those who choose to "hide out" may pose a grave threat to themselves and their partners.
However, Li Hu, who is HIV-positive, fears the real-name test might make many avoid getting tested in the first place.
Li, the head of "Haihe Star," a peer support
group in Tianjin municipality, said many high-risk groups, including sex workers, gay and bisexual men, and drug users, might delay or dodge HIV tests for fear of personal information being leaked.
On the alleged benefit of real-name testing that all carriers would be informed, Li said people going for the test are concerned about their health, so they will go back to test centers for results no matter what.
Li denounced the real-name testing as "short-sighted," which will not stop HIV/AIDS from spreading. "I believe most people will reduce their high-risk behaviors and seek treatment upon learning they are HIV positive," Li said.
Great post Joe.
I think the big issue is: the concern for stigma from a decade ago still as much
of a problem. Ten years ago we didnt disclose identities because it was so
Although stigma is still a problem in many societies, I think that it has gone
down and there is more acceptance of HIV+ individuals. If that is the case, then
perhaps the perspective in which the Chinese Government is thinking may have to
be thought about differently.
"Adnan A. Khan (adnan@...)" <adnan@...>
Asia-pacific nations pledge equal partnership with communities for accelerated
regional AIDS action
Dressed in a striking blue and red shalwar kameez (traditional dress from South
and Central Asia), Akkai, a transgender woman from Bangladesh, steps onto the
stage. Turning to her audience of government officials from Ministries of
health, justice, public security, drug control, social protection; United
Nations officials; and fellow members of key populations most affected by HIV,
she started to sing:
"I born as me/ My feelings changed
/ I started behaving like a girl / I started
walking like a girl / I started dressing as a girl / When my parents forced me
to stop myself / I was beaten up / I was locked up / I was tortured
was nobody to ask these things /
/ This kind of torture, violence, harassment
/ Is not faced only by me / Where to live?/ Where to share?/ Where to survive
Joining the scene, the coordinator of the Women's arm of the Asia-Pacific
Network of people living with HIV explained: "I have been living with HIV for 17
years. Fortunately I have had access to treatment. But now free-trade agreements
are compromising access to essential medicines," she said. "Eighty percent of
generic medicines are made in this region. Without access to affordable
medicines we cannot get to zero," she added.
These personal experiences were two of many shared by people living with HIV and
key affected populations at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission
for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) high-level intergovernmental meeting held in
Bangkok, Thailand from 6-8 February 2012. The meeting was an opportunity to
review the region's progress towards international targets on AIDS.
For the first time in history we have the possibility to end AIDS and
Asia-Pacific nations have shown we can lead the world in making an impact. But
we cannot ignore the challenges our region faces and how these can jeopardize
our ability to progress
H.E. Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, President of Fiji
"For the first time in history we have the possibility to end AIDS and
Asia-Pacific nations have shown we can lead the world in making an impact. But
we cannot ignore the challenges our region faces and how these can jeopardize
our ability to progress," H.E. Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, President of Fiji, who
underlined his long-term commitment and leadership on HIV as Chair of the
Representatives from the most-affected communities urged government delegations
from Asia-Pacific nations to recognize the existing challenges in accessing HIV
services posed by punitive laws and practices, threats to continued availability
of HIV treatment and widespread stigma and discrimination. They also called upon
governments to work increasingly with communities to ramp-up action to reach HIV
The call to action was heard. By the end of the three-day talks, co-convened by
UNAIDS and other UN partners, the nations present endorsed a framework to
fast-track regional action on AIDS towards the achievement of global targets and
commitments by 2015. Countries agreed to create `spaces' for key affected
communitiesincluding people who use drugs, men who have sex with men, people
who buy and sell sex, and transgender peopleto be involved in the development
of practical solutions to legal impediments and HIV service scale-up at the
policy and programmatic level.
"It was recognized here that we have to find new ways to reach the maximum
amount of people in the short time we have before 2015," said UNAIDS Director of
the Asia-Pacific Regional Support Team, Steven Kraus. "And there is no question;
this must be done hand-in-hand with the community."
In recent years, Asia and the Pacific has experienced significant progress in
reduction of new HIV infections, increase on numbers of people receiving
antiretroviral treatment and expansion of programmes to reach key populations
most at risk.
Examples given by a number of countries at the Bangkok talks illustrated that
scaled up HIV services coupled with intensive engagement of key affected
populations, have led to declining epidemics. In Thailand for example, the
transgender people-led initiative "Sisters", which provides social services and
support to transgender people in the Pattaya area reports that HIV incidence
fell from 12 to 8% among people using its services in the last 5 years.
With such examples of progress, the importance of developing the next generation
of community leaders is a central regional priority. The new Asia-Pacific
framework for accelerated action underlines that young people from key affected
populations must be heard, heeded, and have space at the policy and programme
Emphasizing the readiness of young people most affected by HIV to take on a
leadership role in the region's future HIV response, Coordinator of Youth LEAD,
the regional network for young HIV key affected populations, Thaw Zin Aye said:
"Young people are taking ownership of the AIDS response and we are committed to
carrying on the legacy. We urge governments to continue taking action with us."
The endorsed regional framework emphasizes the need to share good practices and
lessons learned in implementing the measures and commitments related to HIV.
Asia-Pacific countries also requested UN ESCAP, UNAIDS and other cosponsors to
support implementation of the road map.
Dr. Rajeeb Sah
Monday, February 20, 2012
The Secret Affair
I was 14 years old on the threshold of my womanhood when our eyes met for the first time. He was sitting on the dais fixed in the corner of the alleyway 50 yards away from my house. I looked at him coyly and shyly from the corner of my eye in a beautiful cool day in New Delhi. I was completely taken over by his masculine slender body. In no time, I discovered that he is a ladies man and in fact every woman admired him as much as I did. That was the time, our relationship first established.
Next week, when I was coming back from school my friend informed me that a party has been organised and dances will be performed in the evening. I often got excited about the events that took place in the community centre. I rushed back home, fixed myself, got dressed and left. My friend G and I walked together to the community and there was this teeth clenching, nail gnawing moment. Yes, I spotted him again - the Man who captured my attention and made a special space in the middle of my heart. I was curious to know more about him.
G and I walked in, found a pew in the back of the row where hundreds of men and women gathered to see special dances performed by Children. He and I still glaring at each other smiled and I pretended not to pay much attention to him. I didnt want to be seen by aunties who also secretly worshipped his slender body and masculine charm. He was indeed particularly famous amongst women. No, not only his body was astounding, he was also a remarkable dancer. He did not fit into your usual social norms and socially constructed values. He was a man ahead of his time.
He held gatherings and parties in cemetery, stayed up till late and often remained intoxicated on pure grass and wine. Everyone was invited to his merrymaking adventures. People tagged along whenever they could. He had his nose and ears pierced, and wore band around his neck and wrist. How cool I thought. While he enjoyed being part of social scenes, you would also notice him wandering around all by himself living a desolate life. There was this rebel, an eccentric and unconventional man right in my back yard. How did I remain so oblivious of his existence and his explorations?
The event finished, I took the courage together, went up to him and asked if we could meet privately. With his peaceful smile, he communicated yes. Wow, I thought. He looks fairly young, perhaps in his mid 30s, hey? G pronounced. But that did not bother me. I was excited about the prospects of meeting him again. I wistfully waited for the dusk to fall.
We met the next day in the same alleyway where we first caught each others attention. There he was sitting and waiting for me. It was dark and late. I only had 10 mins to speak to him and didnt want to be seen alone in the dark standing in an alleyway. He was sitting on the same dais as before. He looked calm and eccentric. I told him much about my troublesome life at school like home work, how difficult was it to wake up and go to school in the morning. He advanced an admonished smile and comforted me. He finally glanced certainty and offered to support me with my homework.
I remember going home with a different feeling altogether. This man had captured me. I am seized by his entirety and his presence in my life. We carried on meeting. The never ending rendezvous involved me always talking of course and He patiently listened and smiled. We both learnt many things about each other. I found out that not only was he a charmer, he was also a big softy. He believed in expressing his emotions gently and calmly unlike many men who are uncomfortable about being effeminate. He, on the other hand, was at peace with both his masculine and feminine characteristics. So good to be true.
Imagine a strong man with a heart of gold. No wonder he has many female admirers, I thought to myself.
I also found out about the vibrant Woman, no less than a deity, sitting next to him. She was one of the major influences in His life. She never stopped herself of speaking her mind and in fact once she was in such a rage, she went on the frontline to express her prowess as a feminist.
There were influences of masculinity, femininity and feminism right before me who had influenced me big time during my teen years, and have kept on influencing me.
Lord Shiva symbol of Masculinity and Femininity musings on the eve of Maha Shivaratri.
A Charm Offensive Against AIDS
Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
Michel Sidibe: A video interview with the executive director of U.N.AIDS on the
importance of diplomacy and social change in fighting the AIDS epidemic.
By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.
Published: February 20, 2012
SOWETO, South Africa Shortly after Michel Sidibé became executive director of
the United Nations' AIDS prevention agency, a court in Senegal sentenced nine
gay men, all AIDS educators, to eight years in prison for "unnatural acts."
In one of his first moves as the new chief of U.N.AIDS, Mr. Sidibe flew to
Senegal to ask its aging president, Abdoulaye Wade, to pardon the men.
Mr. Sidibé, the son of a Muslim politician from Mali and a white French
Catholic, asked the president who is married to a white Frenchwoman if he
had ever suffered discrimination.
"Oh, Sidibé, you have no idea," came the reply. "And for not marrying a Muslim."
"Then, Uncle," Mr. Sidibé said, using the African way to politely address an
older man, "why do you accept that men here are put in jail for eight years just
for being gay?"
Mr. Wade thought about it and promised to call his justice minister.
Shortly afterward, the charges were dropped.
Asked if his predecessor Dr. Peter Piot, a Belgian and one of the discoverers
of the Ebola virus could have gotten the same results, Mr. Sidibé said,
"Without doubt, it would have been more difficult. It would be very
automatically perceived as `the white people moralizing to us again.' Since I'm
African, I can raise it in a way that is less confrontational."
Asked about that, Dr. Piot laughed and agreed, saying he sometimes thought his
African missions, like those of the U2 singer Bono, "felt like a junior
Tanzanian economist andHugh Masekela coming to Washington to scold Congress for
its budget deficit" with Congress having to grin and bear it because it needed
Mr. Sidibé, 59, is a former relief worker, rather than a physician, and, along
with English and French, he speaks West African Mandingo, the Tamashek of the
Tuaregs and other languages.
With a combination of bonhomie and persistence, he has delivered difficult
messages to African presidents very persuasively in his three years in office:
Convince your men to get circumcised. Tell your teenage girls not to sleep with
older men for money. Shelve your squeamishness and talk about condoms. Help
prostitutes instead of jailing them. Ask your preachers to stop railing against
homosexuals and order your police forces to stop beating them. Let Western
scientists test new drugs and vaccines, despite the inevitable rumors that
Africans are being used as guinea pigs.
"You can't say `no' to Michel," said Dr. Piot, who hired him away from Unicef.
"I was at a conference in Ethiopia in December, and for the first time, I felt I
was hearing `ownership' of AIDS by African countries. They weren't talking so
much about the donors, but about it as their own problem. I think he had a lot
to do with that."
Thanks, in part, to Mr. Sidibé's intensive lobbying, South Africa and China are
rapidly revising their approaches to the epidemic, and he hopes Russia and India
soon will too. And the notoriously conservative African Union has created a
committee to help populations it previously ignored: homosexuals, prostitutes
and drug abusers.
Mr. Sidibé is from so deep in Africa that his professional career actually began
in Timbuktu, helping Tuareg nomads. (His grandfather, he said, was a Fulani
nomad in the same desert.)
He has the African shtick down. He calls anyone younger than him "my brother" or
"my sister." He seems to remember, and hug, everyone he has met before, from
drivers to senators to journalists. He regales guests at cocktail parties with
long parables about chameleons that he learned as a teenager in circumcision
school (a bonding ritual that many African men remember with a mix of fondness
and terror a cross between boot camp and a bar mitzvah, but ending with a
collective bris, sometimes done with a spear blade.)
And he is a relentless joker.
In South Africa, he passed through a maternity clinic in Soweto and greeted the
women, whose bellies were bulging out of their robes. Ten minutes later, passing
by again, he stopped. "Ladies, you are still waiting?" he teased. "What is
happening here? You must complain."
Minutes later, in the circumcision ward, he was introduced to a stunning young
surgeon, Dr. Josephine Otchere-Darko.
"Oh, my goodness, my sister, it is too late for me," he said flirtatiously. "But
do men here not mind being circumcised by a woman? In my country, it would be
"You can't say `no' to Michel," his predecessor says.
Some men refused, Dr. Otchere-Darko acknowledged, but most didn't mind.
"Let us see," he said, wrapping his arm around her and sweeping her down the
line to the first man waiting.
"My brother, I am a doctor, and so is this beautiful young woman. Whom do you
choose to do your operation?"
The poor man gulped and looked nervously from one to the other, until Mr. Sidibé
patted him on the shoulder and let him in on the joke.
Minutes later, the kidding ended as he met with infected women who had just
"You are the age of my last daughter," he said to a 21-year-old woman cradling
her newborn. Crouching down so he could touch her knees, he asked if she knew
how she had been infected.
"I am not sure," she answered softly, "but when I was 12, I was raped by my
Another cousin, sitting beside her, added, "He raped all of us girls in the
family as we came of age."
"Where is he now?" Mr. Sidibé asked, clearly upset.
"He is in jail," she said. "But not for that."
For the rest of his South Africa trip, Mr. Sidibé used that story to push
politicians to attack their country's rape crisis.
Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, South Africa's health minister, said Mr. Sidibe pursued
him relentlessly at a United Nations conference in New York until they met. They
became co-conspirators in getting Jacob Zuma, the country's new president, to
budget more money for AIDS drugs and to press drug companies to lower prices. "I
was new to my office, and this man was just chasing me," Dr. Motsoaledi said.
"He insisted South Africa must take leadership on AIDS for Africa. I said: `What
about Botswana?' But he insisted."
Mr. Sidibé then pursued Mr. Zuma.
When the two finally talked, Mr. Sidibé said, he appealed both to Mr. Zuma's
sense of social justice and to his vanity, telling him the lives saved would be
his noblest legacy.
(Mr. Zuma's predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, spent years questioning the existence of
the virus and made drugs hard to get. Dr. Piot called his own dealings with Mr.
Mbeki "a total failure.")
In a major speech in 2010, Mr. Zuma increased the national AIDS budget by 30
percent and, along with Mr. Sidibe, publicly took an AIDS test.
Thirteen million South Africans have done so, and nearly 500,000 people are
Mr. Sidibe also met with King Goodwill Zwelithini of the Zulus, one of South
Africa's largest tribes, to give him evidence that circumcision which the
king's ancestor Shaka had banned in the 1820s protected men against AIDS. In
2010, the king ordered all Zulu men perhaps five million to have the
They aren't legally required to obey, but more than 75,000 have done so, said
Dr. Zwele Mkhize, the premier of KwaZulu-Natal, the Zulu homeland.
Globally, Mr. Sidibé says, he is trying to "be a voice for those without one."
The groups that most need help, he argues, are the ones that no politician wants
to be photographed with: gay men, prostitutes, transvestites, heroin users.
The only category in which there has been major progress is cutting transmission
from mothers to babies.
"That's populist," Mr. Sidibé noted. "Even the Tea Party would not oppose that."
While the global battle against AIDS is still being lost, it is being lost less
badly. Four years ago, 250 people were newly infected for every 100 people
getting treatment; that number is now down to 200.
Mr. Sidibé gives most of the credit for that to a combination of generosity of
donors, particularly from the United States, and to mundane but important
societal changes like adults having fewer extramarital affairs and parents
talking to their children about sex.
He fights conservatives on his agency's board, even allowing one agency magazine
to be printed with a busty beauty on the cover and no clue until the photo
spread on Brazilian transsexuals inside that she had once been a man.
He publicly congratulated India's "hijra" community of eunuchs and transsexuals
on a court's overturning of the country's 160-year-old colonial-era sodomy laws.
Mr. Sidibé has also fought hard against harsh anti-gay laws in Africa, against
hate crimes like the "corrective rapes" of lesbians by South African gangs and
against the widespread belief that homosexuality is a Western import. He pressed
China to admit that H.I.V. was spreading rapidly among gay men and drug users
and that the 500,000 Chinese working in Africa and 40 million migrant laborers,
many of whom visit prostitutes, were potential risk pools.
In 2009, he appeared in an awareness campaign with the basketball star Yao Ming.
China, which Mr. Sidibé described as "immune to pressure, but very pragmatic,"
soon reversed several policies.
Prime Minister Wen Jiabao spoke at the United Nations in 2010 about holding the
hands of AIDS patients, and zero-tolerance drug policies were dropped in favor
of methadone and syringe-exchange. Mr. Sidibé was also one of the first to call
for changing global policy to "test and treat," which means putting infected
people on drugs as soon as they are infected. While initially expensive for
donors, it makes patients 96 percent less likely to infect others, ultimately
He is, of course, frustrated that donors have cut back, and has endorsed the
controversial proposed "Robin Hood tax," which would charge a fraction of a cent
on every currency exchange transaction, and channel it to global health
Mr. Sidibé focuses his lobbying on the BRICS countries Brazil, Russia, India,
China and South Africa. If each takes the lead in its region, he says, it will
drag others along.
For example, without South African leadership, efforts in Lesotho and Mozambique
will fail because their men work in South African mines and its hospitals are so
"In my village they said: If you want to kill the snake, you must hit the head,"
he said. "In Africa, South Africa is the epidemic's head."
Similarly, he said, former Soviet satellites still depend on Russia and have
similar heroin-driven epidemics, so he is pushing for syringe-exchange and
Mr. Sidibé attributes his diplomatic skills to his unusual family.
His father was sent to France during World War II and fell in love.
"He was one of the first Africans married to a white lady, and when she came
down to Mali in 1946, it was very difficult for them," Mr. Sidibé said.
Both families initially rejected the union, but they stayed married for 55
years, till his father's death.
In Marxist post-colonial Mali, Mr. Sidibé's father was a leader of the Social
Democrats, risking imprisonment.
Mr. Sidibé had a traditional Malian birth, at home, with a midwife, protected by
his grandmother's "magic water."
His first nickname was "Trompe la Mort" Fooler of Death because the
umbilical cord was around his neck.
His family was well enough off to buy him shoes which he always took off on
his way to school so his classmates wouldn't find out.
And when his brother, who was born in France and lived with his grandparents,
finally rejoined the family at age 9, Michel, who was 6, had to fight for him
every day. (One reason for the constant school punch-ups was that his
lighter-skinned brother refused to admit being African; he also ran home at the
first sign of trouble.)
Mr. Sidibé still calls his 88-year-old mother daily. When she saw him on TV
getting an award from an American gay rights group, she asked,
"So, my son are you gay now?"
"No, Mama, not yet," he replied.
But his "true mentor," Mr. Sidibé said, was a mentally ill man he used to pass
on his way to school. He slowly befriended the man, who was known as Makan the
Geek, to protect him from other boys who threw stones.
And when Makan was taken to an asylum, his mother let Michel take him food.
Helping someone who offered no more than a mute smile in return, he said, was a
good lesson in empathy.
His father also "told me to see people first as human beings, not as president
or prime minister. That's why I can relate to a lady in the U.S. or to King
Mswati in Swaziland."
And whenever he declares a new goal, like zero new mother-to-child infections,
he describes it as the one he wants to retire on.
"If we can win this one," Mr. Sidibé will say, "I can go back home and sit under
my mango tree and feel proud."
**Please feel free to circulate among your networks**
Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF)
We are very pleased to announce the opening of a new Deputy Director position at the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF).
Under the direction of the Executive Officer, the Deputy Director is responsible for advising and guiding work related to the MSMGF’s strategic direction and core objectives, with a particular emphasis on high-level global health, HIV, and human rights policy. This includes strategic planning, organizational development, fund raising, program design and implementation, and supervision of project teams. The Deputy Director acts as a liaison to various stakeholder groups, including the MSMGF Steering Committee, advocates, donors, public health and government officials, service providers, activists, media, and researchers, in close partnership with the Executive Officer.
More information about this position can be found in the full job description at http://www.msmgf.org/files/msmgf//News/MSMGF_Deputy_Director_Job_Description.pdf.
Those interested in applying for the position should send a letter of interest, short biographic sketch, updated resume or CV, two (2) recent first-authored writing samples, salary history, and the contact information of three (3) referees to: George Ayala, PsyD, Executive Director, MSMGF – gayala@.... Eligible candidates living with HIV, from low-middle income countries and/or countries from the global south as well as candidates from the African/Black Diaspora are strongly encouraged to apply. The application process will remain open until a suitable candidate is identified.
Thank you very much!
The MSMGF Secretariat
Burma 'needs more funds to fight Aids
Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has called on international
donors to make more money available to treat HIV/Aids in Burma.
Peter Paul de Groote, MSF head in Burma, told the BBC that the current situation
He said more than 15,000 Burmese die of HIV/Aids every year because they do not
have access to anti-retroviral drugs.
The prevalence rate of the disease is at 0.67% - relatively low by international
However, years of international isolation and sanctions have left Burma with a
threadbare healthcare system.
At the launch of a new report called Lives in the Balance, MSF said that only a
quarter of the estimated 120,000 people living with HIV and Aids were receiving
treatment, and that it was turning people away from its clinics.
"It's an unacceptable decision that our doctors have to make on a day to day
basis," Mr de Groote said.
"We have to prioritise those who are sickest and will die soon to save their
lives. Other people we have to turn away and say come back when you are sicker."
Last year, plans were made for a massive scaling up in the provision of
anti-retroviral drugs in Burma, with MSF and its partners hoping to reach
But those proposals were shelved after the Global Fund, a public-private
initiative that provides the bulk of money to fight Aids worldwide, said a drop
in donations meant it no longer had the resources to support new projects.
Burma spends a quarter of its budget on the military and only a fraction of that
on health, but Mr de Groote said his organisation had not asked the army-backed
authorities to reassess their priorities.
"We are not politicians, but we do hope the health sector will receive more
money over time, and there are some indications that this will happen," he said.
MSF's new report comes amid continuing signs of political reform in Burma.
Hundreds of political prisoners have been freed and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu
Kyi's political party, the National League for Democracy, will contest in April
its first elections since 1990.
If that vote is seen as being free and fair, then Western sanctions could be
loosened or lifted and developmental assistance stepped up.
Dr. Rajeeb Sah
Oslo Declaration on HIV Criminalisation
Prepared by international civil society in Oslo, Norway on 13th February 2012
The declaration is available at
You can sign the declaration at http://www.hivjustice.net/oslo/oslo-supporters/
- A growing body of evidence suggests that the criminalisation of HIV non-disclosure, potential exposure and non-intentional transmission is doing more harm than good in terms of its impact on public health and human rights.
- A better alternative to the use of the criminal law are measures that create an environment that enables people to seek testing, support and timely treatment, and to safely disclose their HIV status.
- Although there may be a limited role for criminal law in rare cases in which people transmit HIV with malicious intent, we prefer to see people living with HIV supported and empowered from the moment of diagnosis, so that even these rare cases may be prevented. This requires a non-punitive, non-criminal HIV prevention approach centred within communities, where expertise about, and understanding of, HIV issues is best found.
- Existing HIV-specific criminal laws should be repealed, in accordance with UNAIDS recommendations. If, following a thorough evidence-informed national review, HIV-related prosecutions are still deemed to be necessary they should be based on principles of proportionality, foreseeability, intent, causality and non-discrimination; informed by the most-up-to-date HIV-related science
and medical information; harm-based, rather than risk-of-harm based; and be consistent with both public health goals and international human rights obligations.
- Where the general law can be, or is being, used for HIV-related prosecutions, the exact nature of the rights and responsibilities of people living with HIV under the law should be clarified, ideally through prosecutorial and police guidelines, produced in consultation with all key stakeholders, to ensure that police investigations are appropriate and to ensure that people with HIV have adequate access to justice. We respectfully ask Ministries of Health and Justice
relevant policymakers and criminal justice system actors to also take into account the following in any consideration about whether or not to use criminal law in HIV-related cases:
- HIV epidemics are driven by undiagnosed HIV infections, not by people who know their HIV-positive status. Unprotected sex includes risking many possible eventualities â positive and negative â including the risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections such as HIV. Due to the high number of undiagnosed infections, relying on disclosure to protect oneself â and prosecuting people for
non-disclosure â can
and does lead to a false sense of security.
- HIV is just one of many sexually transmitted or communicable diseases that can cause long-term harm. Singling out HIV with specific laws or prosecutions further stigmatises people living with and affected by HIV. HIV-related stigma is the greatest barrier to testing, treatment uptake, disclosure and a countryâs success in âgetting to zero new infections, AIDS-related deaths and zero discriminationâ.
- Criminal laws do not change behaviour rooted in complex social issues, especially behaviour that is based on desire and impacted by HIV-related stigma. Such behaviour is changed by counselling and support for people living with HIV that aims to achieve health, dignity and empowerment.
- Neither the criminal justice system nor the media are currently well-equipped to deal with HIV-related criminal cases. Relevant authorities should ensure adequate HIV-related training for police, prosecutors, defence lawyers, judges, juries and the media.
- Once a personâs HIV status has been involuntarily disclosed in the media, it will
always be available through an internet search. People accused of HIV-related âcrimesâ for which they are not (or should
not be found) guilty have a right to privacy. There is no public health benefit in identifying such individuals in the media; if previous partners need to be informed for public health purposes, ethical and confidential partner notification protocols should be followed.
 UNAIDS. (2012) Op. cit.
 GNP+/UNAIDS (2011) Op. cit.
 Bernard EJ and Bennett-Carlson R (2012) Op. cit.
Lives in the Balance: The Need for Urgent HIV and TB Treatment in Myanmar
FEBRUARY 22, 2012
The UN estimates that over the last few years between 15,00020,000 people
living with HIV die annually in Myanmar, because of lack of access to urgent
lifesaving antiretroviral therapy (ART).
"Lives in the Balance" outlines the situation for people affected by HIV and
tuberculosis (TB), with a special focus on multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), in
Myanmar today. It calls for urgent funding and assistance to be made available
by the international donor community to help Myanmar close the devastating gap
between people's need and people's access to treatment for HIV and TB.
An estimated 120,000 people living with HIV/AIDS are in need of lifesaving ART
in Myanmar. In 2010, according to national estimates fewer than 30,000 of these
Meanwhile, TB prevalence in Myanmar is nearly three times the global average,
and the country has high levels of MDR-TB. The World Health Organization (WHO)
estimates that there are 9,300 new cases of MDR-TB in Myanmar each year. By
2010, 192 MDR-TB patients had been started on treatment. Unpublished figures
indicate that by the end of 2011, this had increased to over 300. This remains
far short of what is needed.
In 2011, following a five year absence, the Global Fund to Fight TB, AIDS, and
Malaria restarted in Myanmar (in Round 9). The money allocated was crucial to
laying the foundations for Myanmar's efforts to provide treatment for HIV and
TB. In expectation of further funding, the Myanmar Ministry of Health, and
nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) have started to make credible efforts
towards scaling up treatment.
Then, in November 2011, just months after donors announced new HIV treatment
targets, the Global Fund cancelled its next round of funding (Round 11).
The loss of the anticipated funds for HIV and TB treatment is a tremendous blow
to Myanmar, the least developed country in southeast Asia, and one of the lowest
recipients of official development aid in the world.
HIV in Myanmar Today
Myanmar has some of the lowest coverage rates for ART in the world. ART not only
saves lives, it is now proven to be a critical tool for the prevention of HIV.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is the biggest provider
of ART in Myanmar. With more than 23,000 patients on lifelong ART, and with over
6,000 new patients to be enrolled in 2012, we are pushing the limits of our
MSF always strives to provide ART across to our projects in line with
international standards. In Myanmar, however, faced with overwhelming numbers of
people in need of HIV treatment, and the few alternative sources available for
them, MSFlike everyone else fighting HIV/AIDS in Myanmarhas to make tough
choices about who we can treat. And who we can't.
Expected funds from the Global Fund's Round 11 would have paid for 46,500
additional patients on ART, helping to bring total coverage close to 100,000 by
By improving access to ART in Myanmar and supporting further efforts to prevent
transmission, HIV in Myanmar can be stopped in its tracks.
Meanwhile, anotheroften linkedcrisis is raging: tuberculosis.
HIV attacks the immune system. In doing so it leaves the body open to infection.
In Myanmar, as in many developing countries, one of the first infections to take
hold is TB. An HIV crisis therefore inevitably means a TB crisis.
A 2010 survey by Myanmar's National TB Program in conjunction with the WHO found
a TB disease burden two times higher than anticipated. Based on the survey,
estimates of the number of cases in 2010 may be as high as 300,000. Twenty
percent of these cases are people living with HIV.
A person with active but untreated tuberculosis can infect 1015 other people a
MDR-TB has the same airborne transmission as drug-sensitive TB, but is more
lengthy and complex to treat, and difficult for patients to tolerate. It takes
around two years to treat an MDR-TB patient, compared with the usual six months
for non-resistant TB patients. During this time, patients have to take an even
bigger cocktail of drugs, many with severe side effects. MDR-TB is a serious and
emerging threat in Myanmar.
Perfectly healthy people can contract MDR-TB.
To prevent the unchecked spread of MDR-TB, exacerbated by HIV and a lack of
availability of diagnosis and treatment, a significant mobilization of resources
is needed. Instead anticipated funding is threatened and with it, tens of
thousands of lives.
A Defining Moment
The cancellation of Round 11 means that there will be no new funding
opportunities to expand treatment for HIV/AIDS or for TB and its drug-resistant
forms until 2014.
Diseases don't respect such delayed timelines. HIV and TB will continue to
spreaduncheckedin many areas. The time to treat them is now.
The math is simple. Rapidly scaling up HIV and TB treatment now will prevent
further transmission and save both lives and money. Fewer people infected means
fewer lives lost, and fewer people in need of treatment.
This is a defining moment. Recent political reforms in Myanmar have been
reciprocated by greater engagement from the international community. Donors have
a real opportunity, and responsibility, to help build on those foundations laid
to address the gap between need and access to treatment for those living with
HIV and TB in Myanmar.
Tens of thousands of lives are hanging in the balance in Myanmar, the decisions
donors make are the difference between life and death.
International donors must help ensure that the planned scale-up of HIV, TB and
MDR-TB treatment goes ahead. They can do this by:
Increasing funding, both bilateral and multilateral, for HIV and TB programmes
Providing additional funding for the Global Fund in 2012, and actively
encouraging other donors to do the same.
Supporting the Government of Myanmar in taking the necessary steps to facilitate
the planned scale up of HIV and TB treatment.
The Global Fund must ensure adequate funding allocations for Myanmar.
International NGOs must play their part, and increase support for HIV and TB
treatment in Myanmar.
MSF is encouraged by the recent efforts by the Government of Myanmar to increase
the health budget and hopes this will continue. The Ministry of Health needs the
resources to provide necessary health care to the population, inclusive of HIV
and TB treatment.
MSF asks the Government of Myanmar to continue to support the process of
decentralising lifesaving ART and MDR-TB treatment by facilitating increased
geographic access, and through simplifying operational constraints such as
Dr. Rajeeb Sah
On behalf of the Organising Committee, we spread a red carpet for your arrival
at HIV Congress 2012 which is being held in Mumbai from 16th to18th March,
2012.This grand event is eagerly awaited by doctors all over the world.
The field of HIV Medicine is dynamically undergoing a change ahead of time. This
is particularly true about the antiretroviral therapy (ART) and its rapidly
increasing resistance. The highlighting features of the conference would be ART,
managing ART resistance, perinatal HIV intervention, newer therapies, sequencing
of ART , opportunistic infections, Co infections and more.
A galaxy of faculty are lined up for scientific session, both national and
international, to share their experiences with everyone.
You will surely enjoy this scientific feast and we look forward to a healthy
scientific interaction at HIV Congress 2012 between the delegates and the
The venue, The Hotel Taj Lands End a five star deluxe oasis of luxury and
tranquility, is situated at Bandra in Central Mumbai.
We will try our best to see that you carry good memories and scientific
knowledge from this important event for the years to come.
Yours sincerely, Ps/ Kindly go through the enclosed file. The scientific
Dr.J.K.Maniar,MD, FRCP Edin.
HIV Congress 2012, Bombay, India
Email : jkmaniar@...
Congress website : www.hivcongress2012.com
Mobile : +91 -98204 40613
1 of 1 File(s)
The Impact of Law On Effective HIV Responses In India
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in Law (SAARCLAW), UNAIDS
Technical Support Facility for South Asia (TSF-SA) and Maitri, together hosted a
one day meeting on Thursday, 16 February 2012 in New Delhi, to discuss
strategies for overcoming legal barriers to HIV prevention and treatment
This meeting was one of the four regional consultations being held as part of
the UNDP funded project `Support to the development of enabling environment by
scanning of laws that impede effective HIV and AIDS responses in India.'
It is widely accepted that the effectiveness of HIV responses depends not just
on the sustained scale up of HIV prevention, treatment and care, but also on
whether the legal and social environments support or hinder programmes for those
who are most vulnerable to and affected by HIV and AIDS. The main challenge is
to understand and try to amend laws that reinforce HIV-related stigma and
prejudice impeding HIV prevention efforts and access to treatment, care and
The first half of the meeting was devoted to a comprehensive appraisal of laws
in India which impede effective HIV responses. Ayesha Mago from SAARCLAW
stressed upon the importance of examining how laws create barriers to access HIV
services across the country, in different key affected communities (KAC). The
fundamental issues at stake are stigma and discrimination within healthcare,
administrative and cultural settings; human rights violations against KAC and
People Living with HIV (PLHIV); balancing confidentiality (or the right to
privacy) with public health; and access to treatment for all those who are in
need of it. There is a great deal of discrimination and violence, as of now, not
only from law enforcers, but also from the wider community at large, and from
their own families, especially in case of LGBTs, and sex workers.
According to Joe Thomas, Project Director, TSF, "Laws indeed affect public
health and play a critical role in effective health responses and at times
becomes a serious impediment in HIV. About 80 countries still have laws that
prevent PLHIV from travelling in and outside the country. Hence legal reforms
are important for a better health of the country."
The Constitution of India guarantees equality for all people, prohibiting
discrimination on the basis of caste, sex, religion and race. It also recognizes
every individual's right to life and liberty, which includes the right to
health. Yet there are several existing laws which inadvertently work in the
reverse and impede effective HIV/AIDS responses.
The Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act 1986 does not criminalize commercial sex
work, but penalises soliciting in public places and keeping of brothels, thus
putting sex work and trafficking under the same category. The Bombay Police Act
penalizes indecent/obscene behaviour in public, (which denotes anything that is
not socially acceptable). These and other laws often become a tool for law
enforcement authorities to brutalize and blackmail innocent victims.
They allow the police to harass, abuse, and extort money from sex workers on a
regular basis. This drives sex workers underground, and creates barriers for
them to negotiate with clients for condom use, and access HIV prevention,
testing and treatment services.
People who use drugs (PWUD) face tremendous stigma from legal and health
institutions and from society as well. The Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic
Substances Act 1985, and the Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Drugs and
Psychotropic Substances Act 1988 give wide ranging powers to the government for
cognizable and non bailable arrest of anyone who manufactures, consumes or
possesses drugs or drug paraphernalia. These, and other similar state laws,
criminalize PWUDs, who are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, leaving them
widely exposed to exploitation and harassment from the police and preventing
them from accessing harm reduction and treatment services.
It has been universally acknowledged that harm reduction strategies are far more
effective as compared to harsh criminalization, when it comes to PWUDs and HIV.
The repressive laws directly impact drug users' ability to practice harm
reduction and access health services and disrupt HIV prevention programmes,
preventing delivery of clean needles/syringes and hindering drug substitution
therapy. All this escalates rates of HIV transmission not only in drug users,
but outside their community too as they have partners. It also blocks outreach
efforts by threatening outreach workers involved with needle exchange programs.
Even if one is handing out leaflets, trying to talk about using drugs safely,
advocating condom use, it is taken as abetment to obscenity. All this escalates
rates of HIV transmission not only in drug users, but outside their community in
The social stigma attached with lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people
(LGBTs), in India results in an environment where they are subject to harassment
and violence from law enforcers and are ostracised by society as well as their
families. The Indian Government has taken steps towards recognising gender
plurality, namely including another category in official documents such as
passports-people may now opt for `male', `female' or `other'. However, without
Government follow up and actions implementing these decisions, the category `O'
in passports may result in dire situations. For instance a few years ago people
travelling on O passports to Saudi Arabia were deported as Saudi Arabia did not
recognise these documents as valid. Of course, the repeal of Section 377 (which
criminalized carnal intercourse against the order of nature) by the Delhi High
Court in 2009 has gone a long way in de criminalizing same sex behaviour. Yet
other laws like the Bombay Police Act and Bombay Prevention of begging Act, as
well as certain sections of the Indian Penal Code on public nuisance and
obscenity continue to drive the LGBTs underground, impacting their ability to
access HIV related services.
The archaic Prisons Act 1894 still remains unchanged. HIV is a major health
challenge for prisoners. Despite India ratifying the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights in 1979, there is extreme physical and emotional
maltreatment of prisoners. The Supreme Court has now ruled that prisoners are
entitled to all fundamental rights other than what has been taken away because
of their offense. But they continue to face serious basic human rights
violations. Those living with HIV are additionally subject to coercive measures
such as segregation, isolation and mandatory HIV testing without ensuring
consent. Violence, poor nutrition, lack of medical facilities and improper
hygiene are endemic to the prison environment and undermine the general health
of the inmates. HIV prevention and harm reduction measures like provision of
condoms, clean syringes, drug substitution therapies and counselling are
hindered by prison policies and legal provisions criminalizing specific
The Directive Principles of State Policy mandate equality for women and so does
the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The
Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 protects women from
physical, emotional and economic violence. Yet the ground reality is very
different, and most women are generally unaware of their legal rights. This has
serious repercussions on their day to day living, especially in case of women
living with HIV or those with alternate sexuality. Women are generally more
vulnerable to HIV than men-- both by virtue of their biology and due the gender
inequity existing in our patriarchal society. Women found to be infected with
the HIV virus are commonly ostracized, abused, separated from their children,
forcibly sterilized and labelled as promiscuous. Many of them are thrown out of
their marital home, especially after the death of the husband, and are
invariably denied a share in assets acquired by the husband despite being
legally entitled to them.
Thus, very often even well meaning laws are interpreted and implemented in a
manner which impacts affected communities negatively. The HIV Bill, which was
drafted keeping affected communities' interests in mind, has been sitting on the
table since 2007. It could be a panacea for many problems as it addresses (i)the
right to access treatment; (ii) prohibition of discrimination; (iii)
confidentiality; (iv) risk reduction strategies; (v) informed consent for
testing, treatment and research. But one does not know if it will ever be passed
and in which form. Till then, we will have to seek proper interpretation and
implementation of existing laws.
It was overwhelmingly felt at the meeting that dissemination of information,
especially in terms of HIV and Law, is a crying need because very few people
from KAC are even aware about it. Awareness about HIV and Law, at the ground
level is very poor. There should be an HIV and Law forum in which more
representatives from KAC participate and come together to know about their
constitutional rights, about what the legal system supports and what it does not
support, about the existing laws and how they are affecting the community, about
the community needs which can be transferred into positive laws. We need to work
together and make available all the relevant information to all community
members and at the same time endeavour to harmonize our laws with the
international standards of law aimed at getting to zero new infections, zero new
deaths and zero discrimination in the field of HIV/AIDS.
Shobha Shukla - CNS
(The author is the Managing Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS). She is a J2J
Fellow of National Press Foundation (NPF) USA. She has worked earlier with State
Planning Institute, UP and taught physics at India's prestigious Loreto Convent.
She also co-authored a book (translated in three languages) "Voices from the
field on childhood pneumonia" and a report on Hepatitis C and HIV treatment
access issues in 2011. Email: shobha@..., website:
**Please circulate among your networks**
Call for Members:
MSMGF Youth Reference Group
The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) is pleased to announce a new call for members of the MSMGF Youth Reference Group (MSMGF YRG)!
The MSMGF YRG was first formed by a small and dedicated group of YMSM advocates at the 2010 MSMGF Pre-Conference on MSM and HIV, preceding the International AIDS Conference in Vienna. With support from the MSMGF Secretariat, the MSMGF YRG works to advocate for and empower YMSM within the global HIV response through skills building, cross networking and meaningful participation in the decision-making processes that affect YMSM. You can learn more about the MSMGF YRG by reading our Terms of Reference (pdf).
The MSMGF YRG is currently seeking expressions of interest from activists who focus on issues concerning HIV among YMSM to fill six new vacancies. Applicants should have experience working on HIV policy and/or programs, and strong linkages with existing networks focused on youth and/or people living with HIV. Candidates openly living with HIV are encouraged to apply. Applicants should be between the ages of 18 and 30, and must be able to communicate effectively in English, the working language of the MSMGF YRG.
Responsibilities of MSMGF YRG members include participation in monthly conference calls, engaging in regular strategic planning discussions regarding YMSM advocacy and programming, and providing guidance and leadership on YMSM issues within the greater MSMGF.
Those who are interested in joining the MSMGF YRG should submit a CV/resume, contact details of two referees, and a brief statement (maximum three hundred words) addressing:
Why you would like to become a member of the MSMGF YRG; and
What qualities, skills and experience you will bring to the position.
All materials should be submitted via email to youth@.... The deadline to apply is Friday, March 16th, 2012.
Thank you very much! We look forward to hearing from you!
All the best,
The MSMGF YRG Team
Challenges and opportunities for HIV/AIDS control in China
The Lancet, Volume 379, Issue 9818, Page 804, 3 March 2012
Yiming Shao (yshao08@...) Zhongwei Jia
Your Dec 3 Editorial1 mentions the political commitment of the Chinese
Government to the control of HIV/AIDS.
Progress with China's AIDS control has been substantial since the epidemic of
severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003, mainly owing to political commitment
from the top and implementation of the Four Free One Care policy.2, 3
On Dec 1, 2011, Premier Wen Jiabao visited the Chinese Center for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC), marking his ninth consecutive World AIDS Day
meeting with patients, doctors, and researchers.
During his visit, Wen reiterated that the Chinese Government will provide more
funding and strong policy support to guarantee improvements in care for patients
and in research into drugs and vaccines, to fight poverty in areas of high HIV
prevalence, and to provide stronger societal support for AIDS prevention.
In the past 5 years, there have been three major shifts in the route of HIV
transmission in China: from parenteral to sexual, from high-risk groups to the
whole population, and from predominantly rural areas to both rural and urban
The average annual increases in reported HIV infections and AIDS deaths are 15%
and 25%, respectively,3 owing to low coverage of prevention and treatment
efforts. The challenges are ever bigger than before, not because of political or
financial factors, but technical and infrastructural ones.
There are no easy solutions to solve the bottlenecks in the control
programmesuch as how to find the more than 55% of unidentified HIV/AIDS
patients among the national estimated total of 780 000; how to control sexual
transmission effectively when sex education is still taboo and most men who have
sex with men are married as a cover;4 how to fight discrimination where cultural
beliefs and stigma prevent most doctors from operating on AIDS patients;5 and
how to mobilise millions of medical personnel and non-governmental organisations
for a comprehensive, unified war against AIDS, rather than just the solitary
fight by the CDC system.
China has benefited from the best practices of other countries for so long. This
time, to tackle the above challenges, the solutions have to come from within. An
old Chinese saying is, "Opportunity and challenge are brothers." China's
successful track record throughout the past 30 years of economic reform and
opportunity gives us reason to hope.
1 The Lancet. Political commitment for HIV/AIDS control in China. Lancet 2011;
378: 1896. Full Text | PDF(113KB) | PubMed
2 State Council AIDS Working Committee Office, UN Theme Group on AIDS in China.
A joint assessment of HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care in China.
pic=7&sid=499&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0. (accessed Feb 21, 2012).
3 Ministry of Health, People's Republic of China, Joint United Nations Program
on HIV/AIDS, World Health Organization. 2009 estimates for the HIV/AIDS epidemic
in China. http://www.unaids.org.cn/en/index/Document_view.asp?id=413. (accessed
Feb 21, 2012).
4 Zhang BC, Chu QS. MSM and HIV/AIDS in China. Cell Res 2005; 15: 858-864.
CrossRef | PubMed
5 Zhou YJ, Pan JH, Mu LX. Survey about discrimination against HIV infected
people and AIDS patients. Chin J Public Health 2006;22: 1472-1572. PubMed
a State Key Laboratory for Infectious Disease Control and Prevention, National
Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention, Chinese Center for Disease Control
and Prevention, Beijing 102206, China
b National Institute of Drug Dependence, Peking University, Beijing, China
Maan AIDS Foundation
Job Title: Deputy Director (Finance)
Employing organisation: Maan AIDS Foundation
Location: Lucknow, India
Closing Date: March 20, 2012
Maan AIDS Foundation is strongly committed to ensuring diversity within our
organisation. We welcome applications from sexual minority communities. Maan
does not discriminate against applicants or employees based on their HIV status,
sexual orientation, or gender identity.
Maan AIDS Foundation is a national sexual health development agency for MSM and
transgender populations with a specific remit to provide technical support and
assistance to local community based organisations responding to the sexual
health needs of their constituents.
Currently it is going through a major institutional restructuring process that
requires the recruitment of a Deputy Director (Finance)
The Deputy Director (Finance) will be responsible managing all of Maan's fiscal
policies and procedures, developing budgets, producing monthly expenditure
reports, and ensuring Maan's financial and procurement policies are adhered.
Summary of responsibilities:
Implement and administer general accounting practices and related functions
including accounts payable and receivable, billing, inventory accounting and
verification, fixed asset accounting, banking relationships, and payroll;
Prepare monthly payroll for Maan;
Review and reconcile Maan monthly reports, PSRs, Receipt Vouchers, Payment
Vouchers, and Journal Vouchers;
Implement an effective and timely internal and external auditing process;
Make primary, daily entries on Tally 9 ERP (or other data entry system)
including all vouchers and cash receipts;
Monitor and manage account ledgers with focus on contractor advance, travel
and project advance, deposits;
Make payment schedule and prioritize payments;
Conduct monthly cash count
Produce and be accountable for all internal and external financial reports
such as Missing Checks Report, Advance Reconciliation Report, Cash Count Report,
and Burn Rate Report and any other reports as per the Maan fiscal manual, local
statutory requirements and contractual requirements of any externally aided
Prepare Operating Advance Request monthly or as needed;
Prepare monthly financial reports for the Board of Directors of Maan
Review competitive bids for procurement for Maan as needed;
Be a cheque signatory for the Maan Office
Verify activities proposals, competitive review summaries, and project office
budgets and reports for Maan;
Monitor departmental budget and funds for on-going and new finance projects.
Establish contacts and develop relationships with the public/private sector
external agencies, departments, vendors, suppliers of goods and services etc. as
appropriate for Maan's needs;
Promote Maan's core philosophy
Supervise work of Maan Finance Officer and and any future finance staff
Delegate tasks, set priorities and deadlines; hold regular staff meetings to
ensure effective communication; and monitor performance of Maan Finance team;
Attend meetings, conferences, seminars, etc, as necessary;
Ensure the correct storage of information, including an appropriate
cross-reference system and easy access and retrieval at the Maan Office.
Skills and qualifications required:
Graduate in commerce, Chartered Accounts preferred
At least 5 years of financial management experience in a large institutions
preferably in the development sector and managing externally funded projects
Ability to communicate effectively in English
Ability to use a range of fiscal management software, particularly Tally 9.
Interest in public health and/or private sector approach to international
Will report to the Director (Programmes) and submit financial reports to the
Board of Directors.
Salary package will be commensurate with qualifications and experience, and
Announcement from the AHRN Federation ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
March 9, 2012
Chiang Mai -- As a part of the follow-up action to the AHRN's 2012-2016 adopted strategic plan and its new federation model, we are pleased to announce that Asian Harm Reduction Network (AHRN) will now be known as AHRN Federation. The federation membership will consist the national/sub-national harm reduction networks and key focal organizations. The following table represents the first batch of federation partner members along with each of their respective representatives (functionaries or authorized constituents) as stated:
Representatives to AHRN Federation
IHRN (Indian Harm Reduction Network)
Luke Samson, President
JANGKAR (Indonesian Harm Reduction Network) - Indonesia
Sahrul Syah, General Secretary
NEIHRN (Northeast India harm Reduction Network) - Northeast India
Chenithung Humtsoe, President
NHRA (Nepal Harm Reduction Alliance) - Nepal
Anan Pun, Executive Member
YHRN (Yundi Harm Reduction Network)
- Southwest China
Lou Zhi, Coordinator
ANPUD (Asian Network of People Who use Drugs)
Jimmy Dorabjee, Chairman
Korsang - Cambodia
Taing Phoeuk, President
Malaysian AIDS Council - Malaysia
Mohd Datuk Zaman Khan, President
AHRN/Myanmar - Myanmar
Willy De Maere, Country Coordinator
Subsequently, the above-mentioned nine (9) member representatives will act as the first federation steering committee to oversee and guide the overall AHRN Federation functions and while achieving its strategic goals.
Besides its partner members, AHRN Federation will also have strategic partners, particularly, those working in the region on HIV/AIDS, drugs, drug use and harm reduction - laws, policies and practices. This strategic partnership will generate synergy to catalyze the overall national/regional response to drugs and HIV issues.
With federation steering committee in place, an election for the chairmanship was held through e-voting process and it is our privilege indeed to announceMr. Luke Samson, President, Indian Harm Reduction Network as Chair and Tan Sri Mohd Datuk Zaman, President, Malaysian AIDS Council as Co-chair, who were unanimously voted to the respective posts on March 2, 2012 with immediate effect from March 5, 2012.
Our next step is to convert the national and regional plans into real actions by acquiring adequate resources and thus contribute substantially in achieving the national, regional and global goals on drugs and HIV.
With your valuable supports we hope to advance the strides towards our vision of Asia-Pacific region, where human rights of people who use drugs are fully respected and enabled them to complete access to opportunities to realize potential as human beings.
Luke Samson Mohd Datuk Zaman Khan
AHRN Federation Steering Committee AHRN Federation Steering Committee
AHRN Federation Secretariat,
C/o Northern Substance Abuse Center (NSAC),
6th Floor, The Graduate Building, Faculty of Medicine,
Chiangmai University, Intawaroros Road, Muang, ChiangMai-50200, Thailand.
Telephone: +66 53 289291
Fax: ++66 53 945114
Meritorious Service award for Dr. Joe Thomas
The HIV congress 2012, 16-18th March 2012, Hotel Taj Lands End, Bandra, Mumbai,
India conferred the Meritorious Service award on Dr. Joe Thomas.
The following is the citation read along with the award
Prof. Joe Thomas is an accomplished HIV social researcher, teacher and health
projects manager with over 20 years of local and international experience in
research, consultancy, and training, mentoring and HIV project management in
Asia pacific region. He has contributed towards HIV/AIDS related program
development in various countries of Australasia.
He served as the HIV/AIDS to the Ministry of Health in East Timor, served as the
tehnicl advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO) and as the regional
manager of Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council in Australia.
Prof. Joe Thomas is the founder director of Jodhpur School of Public Health
(JSPH), where he teaches and supervises masters and PhD students in Public
As the principal investigator, Dr. Thomas initiated two major regional Research
Projects: A Ford Foundation supported study on understanding the public health
response towards HIV related stigma, discrimination in the Asia Pacific region
and another study on AIDS related discrimination in Seven Asian countries
(UNAIDS and AN+)
He pioneered internet mediated HIV/AIDS information management in Asia by
establishing various AIDS eFORUMS for policy dialogue, information and
communication on HIV/AIDS related issues. For the last 11 years he is editing
AIDS INDIA and AIDS ASIA e FORUM
Dr. Thomas is the author of two books and published more than 50 articles in
peer reviewed journals and attended several major regional and international
Currently, Dr. Thomas is serving as the Director of the UNAIDS Technical Support
Facility for South Asia (TSF-SA) as based in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Dear Members of the group,
I would like to congratulate Dr. Joe Thomas on his achievement.
It is indeed a pleasure knowing that his long standing efforts in uniting the
AIDS sector activists has been felicitated at a congress.
We need many more such persons with dedication, commitment and a desire to take
initiatives and keep our communities and society united for social causes.
With all the best wishes for his future endeavors.
AusAid's Australian Leadership Awards (ALA) Scholar
Doctoral Fellow in Health, Sexuality & Culture
National Centre in HIV Social Research (NCHSR)
University of New South Wales (UNSW), Kensington,
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia-2052
Ph: +61(02) 93856397(O)
Mob: +61-469592946 (Personal-All time)
CRICOS Provider Code: 00098G
The AIDS Festival 2012 - Zero Infection, Zero Discrimination
Sunday, 11-6pm, 1 April 2012
The Chater Road Pedestrian Precinct, Central, Hong Kong (the old Legislative
You are cordially invited to the above captioned AIDS Festival, which will take
place on Sunday, 1 April 2012.
The theme of the AIDS Festival 2012 is Zero Infection, Zero Discrimination.
Worldwide, more than 34 million people are currently living with HIV, and more
than 7000 are infected daily.
In Hong Kong, in the 4th quarter of 2011, a total of 121 people tested positive
for HIV, taking the cumulative total of reported HIV infections to 5,270 since
UNAIDS underlines the importance of shared responsibility in the AIDS response.
Shared responsibility is one of the central pillars of UNAIDSâ strategy to
reach zero new HIV infections, zero
discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths by 2015.
The AIDS Festival 2012 is the 9th festival organized by the St. Johns Cathedral
HIV Education Centre. It is a whole day outdoor event aiming to educate the
public about AIDS prevention, to reduce stigma and discrimination and to create
a more friendly and acceptable environment for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Thus, we can reach zero infection, zero discrimination in our society.
The Festival commences at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, 1st April 2012 while the grand
ceremony will be launched at 3pm by the guests of honour including DG David
Harilela, District Governor, of the The Rotary International District 3450
(Hong Kong, Macao & Mongolia), Mr. Kurosh Massoud Ansari, Vice Consul Economic
Affairs, U.S. Consulate General, Ms. Palida Karkum, Vice Consul Labour, The
Royal Thai Consulate General, The Revd Canon David Pickering, Acting Dean of the
St. Johnâs Cathedral and representatives from ethnic groups.
More than thirty groups including local schools, AIDS organizations, ethnic
groups and 200 volunteers will be performing at the Festival. A variety of
activities including AIDS and health information booth
display, yoga demonstration, magic show, poem reading, fashion show, cultural
presentations and Q & A session will be delivered. It is expected at least 2000
will be attending.
If you have further queries, please feel free to contact the AIDS Festival
Coordinator, Miss Elijah FUNG at 2523 0531 or 9048
4645 for more information.
St. Johnâs Cathedral HIV Education Centre
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*Call for Concept Note *
*Media Engagement Framework:*
*Improving Human Rights and Universal Access to HIV and Health Services for men
who have sex with men, transgender persons*
The media plays a critical role the protection of human rights of those highly
vulnerable to HIV by addressing social and legal environmental issues;
particularly in favorably changing the social landscape surrounding sexual
orientation and gender identities, including men who have sex with men (MSM) and
In addition, the media achieves a vital role in building favorable public
opinion, supporting legal reforms, and strengthening policy advocacy efforts.
Though the media coverage of HIV has increased over the last two decades; the
coverage of sexual orientation and gender identities (SOGI) issues has often
been weak and objectionable because of the stigma, negative stereotypes and
unscientific information conveyed. At times, media reports on these issues
endorse the myths, moral judgments and stereotypes associated with longstanding
attitudes towards MSM. Engaging with the media is therefore important to ensure
substantive enjoyment of human rights, including access to stigma free health
services, by helping to address attitudes that cause or perpetuates
Men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender persons within the South Asia
region are particularly vulnerable to HIV. The epidemiological data shows that
MSM and transgender persons have disproportionately high levels of prevalence in
many countries in the region.[i] For example, the HIV prevalence of MSM is
reported to be in 7.3% in India, 3.8% in Nepal and 0.5% in Sri Lanka, which are
many times higher than the general population in those countries.[ii] The HIV
prevalence for transgender persons are also disproportionately high in countries
where data exists, for example, the
Hijra population in Pakistan has a HIV prevalence of 6.1%.[iii] The
Commission on AIDS in Asia further notes that in the worst case scenario, 50% of
all new infections will be caused by male to male sex by 2020, little under a
decade from now.[iv]
International human rights jurisprudence recognizes that addressing
discrimination consists of both ensuring equality in laws and policies, and
preventing and diminishing the conditions and attitudes that causes or
perpetuates substantive discrimination. Addressing structural discrimination
through engaging with the media is an important opportunity to alleviate stigma
and discrimination that MSM and transgender persons experience in their
day-to-day lives. Thus, a creative partnership with the media sector is critical
to create a more enabling environment for effective engagement and partnership
between MSM and transgender communities and HIV prevention, treatment, and care
and support programmes.
Recently, UNDP, together with SAARCLaw, the apex legal body in the South Asian
region, International Development and Law Organization (IDLO), the World Bank
and UNAIDS convened the South Asian Roundtable Dialogue on HIV and the Law on 8-
10 November 2011 in Kathmandu, Nepal. As part of this Roundtable Meeting, a
number of South Asian judges, lawyers, parliamentarians and law enforcement
officials engaged in discussions on the role of the media in protecting the
human rights of people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity by
addressing discrimination, stigma, and violence experienced by people with
diverse sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
This South Asia dialogue was a follow-up activity
of the Asia Pacific Regional Dialogue of the Global Commission on HIV and the
This Media Engagement Framework project is supported by the Project DIVA:
Diversity in Action, Supporting communities, Reducing vulnerabilities (South
Asia Multi-country Global Fund Programme) which covers seven countries including
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Project
DIVA aims to support in-country MSM and transgender community systems
strengthening (CSS), engage in policy advocacy initiatives, and strengthen
strategic information on HIV-related issues of these highly marginalized and
vulnerable populations. PSI Nepal is the Principle Recipient and Naz Foundation
International (NFI) is the regional sub recipient. UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional
Centre is the regional Technical
This work builds on the Media Training and Advocacy Workshop on MSM,
Sexual Diversity and Human Rights convened by UNDP, NFI and the Asia
Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM) in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 24-26
Project to be awarded
Under this Call for Concept Note, UNDP Asia Pacific Regional Centre is
seeking concept notes to award grant to develop a Media Engagement
Framework: Improving Human Rights and Universal Access to HIV and Health
Services for men who have sex with men, transgender persons in South Asia.
This framework will include a review and analysis of media policies,
regulations and practice (including print, on-line and broadcasting) and their
impact on access to health services and police enforcement practices South Asia.
In addition, the proposed Framework will review training programmes in
relation to human rights, sexual orientation, gender identity and HIV
issues, and outline a regional training programme with in-country
activities. The proponent to be awarded will focus on the above components of
the framework and address the following outcome.
To create an engagement and training framework to assist national human rights
institutions (NHRI), community sector stakeholders and health departments,
working on human rights, SOGI and HIV and related issues to engage and improve
understanding among media professionals and organizations on the potential of
media polices, regulations, reporting practices and platforms (print, on-line
and broadcasting) to promote access to HIV and health services and improve human
rights in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity.
A Media Engagement Framework: Improving Universal Access to HIV and Health
Services for men who have sex with men, transgender persons in South Asia to
assist human rights organisations, governments and other health and community
sector stakeholders working on HIV and related issues to engage with the media
and policy makers. The Framework will include:
- Literature review and analysis of existing training, tools and
- Application of principles of non-discrimination and
non-vilification, and other international human rights principles in media.
- Recommended HIV, Human Rights, Sexual Diversity trainings and
engagement guidelines for media organizations.
Based on the Media Engagement Framework, develop regional training
programme and implement in South Asia. This training programme will include
media professionals, government communication ministries, health and community
sector stakeholders and media professionals and national human rights
institutions to improve the reporting of human rights and SOGI issues in the
Delivery of Output 2 will be based on availability of resources.
- Be a non-state, not-for-profit media civil society organization
with substantive experience on promoting human rights principles in South Asia
- Demonstrate involvement on HIV and Human Rights with key and
vulnerable populations, including men who have sex with men and transgender
- Maintain key partnerships with media institutions, journalist
organizations and related government departments
- Exhibit previous regional and national engagement with
multi-lateral institutions, national human rights institutions (NHRIs), civil
society organizations, the United Nations or other international stakeholders
- Be formally established a not-for-profit organization and not seeking
- Demonstrate that the organizations mandate, values and ways of
working are guided by principles of Human Development
*Dates and Milestones*
March 2012 Call for the development of the Concept Note on Framework for
April 2012 Methodology developed and submitted
May 2012 Literature review and draft analysis of existing training,tools
and assessments submitted
June 2012 Final draft of the Framework for Media Engagement submitted
*Please submit Concept Notes to the following:*
Human Rights and Governance
HIV, Health and Development Team
UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Center
HIV, Health and Development Team
UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Center
Deadline for Submission is 13 April 2012.
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AFPPD Parliamentarians Meeting on HIV/AIDS Legislation
Thailand: In cooperation with the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and the
Pacific, AFPPD will bring together 30 parliamentarians from Indo-China
sub-region and other ASEAN countries to discuss HIV/AIDS Legislations and look
for ways to improve them.
This focus group of parliamentarians will underscore the importance of creating
an enabling environment through legislative and policy action at the country
This will be done through a review of existing laws, anti-discriminatory
measures taken to protect infected and affected population both in private and
public sectors and identifying the provisions which prejudice the vulnerable
In this focus group, parliamentarians will examine how to best protect the
rights of PLWHA and vulnerable groups and address their diverse needs. The Focus
Group will also involve NGO representatives and will draw on the expertise of
other UN agency staff. The focus group will be held in Bangkok Thailand during
21-22 April 2012.
HIV/AIDS in South Africa
Reviewed by Joe Thomas
UNAIDS's Technical Support Facility for South Asia (TSF SA), Nepal
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Volume 36, Issue 2, page 197,April 2012
HIV/AIDS in South Africa
By Salim Karim and Quarraisha Karim . Published by Cambridge University Press ,
Cape Town , South Africa , September 2005 , Paperback , 590 pages , plus index ,
ISBN 9780521147934 , RRP $165.95
This edited volume covers almost all aspects of HIV and AIDS in southern Africa.
It has been written by a highly-respected team of South African HIV experts,
mostly in the field of biomedical sciences, and provides a thoroughly researched
account of the epidemic in the region. The book comprises seven sections and 35
articles, the first of which covers the numbers behind the epidemic; both in
terms of evolution and in the current state. Sections following this include:
the science of the virus, its structure, diagnosis and spread; HIV risk factors
and prevention strategies, focal population groups and the impact of AIDS in all
aspects of South African life. The final sections examine treatment of AIDS, the
politics of AIDS, mathematical modelling and a discussion on the future of HIV
and AIDS in South Africa.
Nelson Mandela's forward to this book is fitting. He hopes and trusts this book
is a `call to action'.
This well-edited book should be read by HIV and AIDS policy makers, activists,
academics, public health administrators and students who want to understand more
about biomedical response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic in South Africa. This
book may also be of interest for Australians involved in international health
and development issues in general and particularly working on development issues
in Africa. Although this book does not challenge or break new grounds of our
knowledge about HIV and AIDS in South Africa, this is a timely and much-needed
resource which brings a vast array of knowledge together, covering most of the
critical issues in one edition.
The language and the information presented is more or less accurate and
sensitive to the unique circumstance of HIV and AIDS. However, the authors
should have been aware of some of the contemporary usage of terms. For instance,
Chapter 14 of the book has been titled `Intravenous Drug Use'. Instead of using
this word, the chapter author could have used the words `Injecting Drug Use', or
simply `People who Inject Drugs'. For some reason, the 2nd edition of this book
omitted Chapter 33 of the first edition, `A litany of errors post 1994' by
To become a definitive textbook for all aspects of HIV and AIDS in South Africa,
as claimed by the publisher, the editors should have added additional chapters
on social determinants of HIV infection and social, political and structural
response to HIV infection in South Africa. While the introductory chapter made
an effort to describe "South Africa's response to AIDS epidemic", it lost the
analytical rigor as it was attempted to be written from a biomedical
AIDS response is increasingly analysed as a transnational social movement, based
on the premise of health and access to treatment which are basic human rights.
South African HIV and AIDS activists have contributed significantly to this
Similarly, while Section Three attempts to address `HIV risk factors and
prevention strategies' and to cover `HIV vulnerability', the authors are
preoccupied with individual risk behaviours rather than looking into deeper
aspects of structurally derived vulnerability of people who are infected,
affected and likely to be affected by HIV/AIDS.
Section Four attempts to develop a discussion on `focal groups for understanding
HIV epidemic', covering heterosexual transmission, young people, female sex
workers and migrant population, however, the absent discussion of HIV infection
among men who are having sex with men is conspicuous.
A comprehensive discussion on HIV epidemic in South Africa needs a detailed
analysis on the HIV and AIDS policies, legal, structural and political dimension
of the epidemic, preferably analysed and contributed by authors with backgrounds
in the social sciences and public health.
South Africa has a complex `law and order' problem and an entrenched epidemic of
HIV. Therefore, this book could also have explored this interaction, the
interdisciplinary insights on the connections between law and order, human
security and the HIV epidemic. An analysis of gender and rights perspective is
yet another critical omission.
South Africa has made great strides in the response to HIV epidemic; however,
there are numerous challenges to addressing operational obstacles and fully
implementing proven strategies. Therefore, a chapter on facing the programmatic
(technical support/capacity development) challenges created by the HIV/AIDS
epidemic in South Africa would have been appropriate to include.
Overall, this book is a valuable and timely contribution to a growing body of
scholarship in the clinical, epidemiological and social contexts of AIDS
response in South Africa. If the editors could incorporate a section on social
determinants and social context of AIDS response in South Africa in the next
edition, the book would provide a more comprehensive understanding about HIV
pandemic and the response to contain this pandemic in South Africa and across
Attached please find information about a free workshop we are offering to AIDS activists on Sunday, July 22 from 2-6pm in Washington DC on how to analyze and document human rights issues. The workshop is open to all but we will give priority to AIDS community groups from East and Southeast Asia. Dinner will be provided. To reserve, please email skrumm@....
For those who can't make it to DC, the curriculum materials are also being posted online at http://asiacatalyst.org/nonprofit_survival_skills/.
Sara L.M. Davis, Ph.D. ("Meg")
Tel: (212) 967-2123
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Dr. Joe Thomas is appointed as the new Executive Director of Partners in
Population and Development (PPD)
19th April 2012, Dhaka: Partners in Population and Development (PPD) announces
the appointment of its new Executive Director, Dr. Joe Thomas.
Partners in Population and Development (PPD), an inter-governmental organization
comprised of 25 developing countries, is pleased to announce the appointment of
its new Executive Director, Dr. Joe Thomas, who took up the assignment on 16th
PPD, that has its permanent headquarter secretariat in Dhaka Bangladesh, was
established at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)
held in Cairo, Egypt in 1994 to promote South-South Cooperation in Reproductive
Health, Population and Development. The organization is a Permanent Observer at
the United Nations and has Diplomatic Status in Bangladesh.
Dr. Joe Thomas, who is not new to Bangladesh, is an accomplished social
anthropologist, public Health professor, author and researcher with over 20
years of international work experience in the Asia Pacific region, Australia,
China, Africa, Europe and East Timor. He has authored two books and published
more than 50 articles in peer reviewed journals. He is also the founder director
of Jodhpur School of Public Health (JSPH) in India, where he has lectured and
supervised masters and PhD students in Public Health as a visiting member of
Dr. Joe Thomas is a visionary leader that has recently been awarded a
`meritorious award' for his exemplary contribution to the global HIV/AIDS
pandemic response. He has long and short term experience in the population and
development sector working with governments, the United Nations, International
NGOs, civil society organizations including faith based institutions in over 20
countries in the Asia and Africa regions. He has vast experience in resource
mobilization, program development, ingenious networking, capacity building,
knowledge management, technical backstopping and impact evaluation.
Dr. Joe Thomas has a passion for rights and gender based reproductive health
programming in the context of the ICPD Program of Action and the Millennium
Development Goals to address the needs of the highly vulnerable and hard to
reach sectors of the population including women, children and adolescents.
Before joining PPD, Dr. Thomas served as the Director of the UNAIDS Technical
Support Facility for South Asia (TSF-SA) based in Kathmandu, Nepal providing
leadership to programs and staff in eight countries.
For more information about PPD and its offices in New York, China and Uganda,
please visit: http://www.partners-popdev.org
Just address an email to AIDS_ASIA@yahoogroups.com
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