Today, December 1st, GATE joins the global observation of World AIDS Day (WAD). WAD is an opportunity for all of us to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, to intensify efforts in preventing new infections and to commemorate those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses.
In 2016, 36.7 million people were living with HIV globally, yet only just over 50% had access to antiretroviral treatment. In 2016 alone, 1.8 million people became newly infected with HIV and 1 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses. This is an annual increase of almost 5% of newly infected people with HIV, which is unsurprising when you consider that less that half of the 2014-2016 Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (the Global Fund) was dedicated to the primary prevention of HIV. Since the beginning of the epidemic, 76.1 million people have become infected with HIV and 35 million people have died of AIDS-related illnesses. The Western-centric, moralistic attitude towards sex and drug use, perpetuated by policy makers, donors and governments in their reluctance to openly and positively address sex and drug use in public health discourse, has to end in order for primary prevention of HIV to succeed.
The trans communities continue to be one of the most affected by the epidemic, despite the progress made throughout the years since the first wave of diagnoses. GATE remains concerned by the high number of trans people newly infected each year and who die from AIDS-related illnesses globally. The Global Fund allocated only 12% of funding to programs dedicated to key populations, of which only 4.4% was allocated to ‘men who have sex with men and transgender people’ (MSM), two distinct key populations that are problematically aggregated as a single group. This is compounded by the exclusion of trans men and trans masculine people from the targeting of the transgender population. If we are to put an end to the epidemic, we need to seriously consider the way we move forward and how we fight the epidemic in the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) era.
Through its international HIV response program, GATE ensures that the voices of trans, intersex and gender diverse people are heard in the global HIV response. Our objective is to ensure that the needs of our communities are heard, that programs and interventions are designed and implemented by our communities, and that adequate funding is provided for the delivery of these services and programs. This year’s World AIDS Day theme is: “Increasing impact through transparency, accountability and partnerships.” GATE remains committed to this cause and calls on organizations to create more partnerships so that together we can end the epidemic and prevent deaths from AIDS-related illnesses.
GATE calls global and national institutions and states to:
(a) Include trans, gender diverse and intersex people, in all our diversities, in the international, national and local HIV responses. If we are to reach all and leave no one behind, we need to stop excluding communities. To this end, we call for the urgent inclusion of trans masculine people, in particular trans men who have sex with men, in the HIV response;
(b) Reaffirm the commitment made in the 2016 political declaration on the active and meaningful involvement of people living with HIV (GIPA policy);
(c) Recognize the invaluable contributions of people living with HIV and communities of key populations in the global HIV response;
(d) Redouble efforts to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030;
(e) Facilitate the collection of data and support community-led research; and
(f) Adequately fund the efforts of key populations and communities in the HIV response.
All statistics taken from The Global Forum on MSM & HIV, Sept 2017. Reconsidering Primary Prevention of HIV: New Steps Forward in the Global Response. Accessed Nov 30, 2017. http://msmgf.org/reconsidering-primary-prevention/