The news that the National Health Service in the United Kingdom would not provide PrEP was shocking, since PrEP access is a human rights issue. What isn’t shocking: When denied it, men who need PrEP are going to get it however they can. That news and more in our look at HIV and AIDS issues from around the world.
- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke at the opening press conference to the 21st International AIDS Conference (IAC), urging attendees to ‘finish what we started’ and end the epidemic. He noted the need to fast-track response and ‘close the gaps’ that obstruct access to services. In particular, he noted:
“We have to protect and promote the rights of people living with HIV, gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, people who inject drugs and prisoners.”
- UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé added he was ‘scared’ because ‘competing priorities‘ have led to a decline in donor support—”If we continue with this trend we will not be able to end AIDS by 2030. We will have a rebound in infections; we will have resistance, we will lose our investment and we will have to pay more later as we did with malaria.”
And South African actress Charlize Theron opened the conference with an impassioned plea, stating that ‘AIDS doesn’t discriminate on its own‘ and urging the world to embrace the tools at our disposal to beat the epidemic instead of making ‘excuses.’
- Also in attendance, Sir Elton John and Prince Harry co-hosted a youth focused special session. Sir John announced the launch of a joint $10 million LGBT Fund supported by PEPFAR and his foundation.
UNAIDS launched a new ‘Key Population Atlas‘—an interactive data source and visualization tool for information on the AIDS epidemic among gay men and other men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, prisoners, sex workers, and transgender people.
The Lancet published a follow up on the global response to HIV in gay, bi, and other men who have sex with men, noting that in four years progress remains ‘uneven’ and that global efforts to address the epidemic are ‘insufficient’ to achieve an AIDS free generation.
During an AIDS 2016 pre-conference event hosted by MSMGF, participants discussed the demand for PrEP and lack of access, especially in low and middle income countries. And at pre-conference event ‘No More Lip Service’ global trans activists discussed how trans people have been excluded from PrEP research.
In the UK some health experts warned that gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men are resorting to ‘desperate measures’ to acquire PrEP.
In countries where anti-LGBT legislation has increased, activists and health workers report difficulties in providing HIV treatment and prevention services to key populations. In Russia officials blacklisted the country’s leading HIV NGOs as ‘foreign agents’ engaged in political activity. The identification prevents groups from receiving funds and could lead to organizations shutting down all activity.
In Uganda, where health providers say restrictive legislation and homophobia has kept LGBTI people from seeking help, organizations are bringing HIV testing and counseling to the only gay friendly bar. And a new report from China found that HIV response is hindered by police who target male, female, and trans sex workers who carry condoms.
In Australia leading AIDS organizations announced that AIDS is no longer a public health issue, with incidence of new infections ‘too low’ to be recorded. Though others warn that the ‘HIV is no big deal’ mentality is driving new cases, especially among young Australians. Meanwhile Indigenous community infectious disease expert James Ward warned that rates of sexually transmitted infections are increasing in the community even as funding cuts have slashed prevention programing.
Zimbabwe’s National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda told Parliament that homosexuality in prisons should no longer be ignored as it spreads HIV and TB.
Unicorn Booty brings attentions to global issues of significance for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. Our partnership with Equal Eyes, a news source produced in collaboration with UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, is part of that effort. To learn more, visit their site at Equal-Eyes.org.
This coverage promotes sexual and gender equality while highlighting issues of health, violence, culture, and legal and human rights. Equal Eyes provides advocates and allies a common frame of reference for the realities of global LGBTI communities. Through followup reporting and disseminating this coverage, our effort is to ensure we have a representation of the global stories that matter most or may have under-reporting.
(Featured photo via Andrew_Stevens_H/Flickr)