Global Report Details Advocacy Strategies of People With HIV, At-Risk Groups
A new report examines the role of community-led advocacy in addressing HIV and human rights among key populations, including people living with HIV (PLHIV), people who inject drugs, sex workers, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.
Global Action with Local Impact: Why Advocacy Matters details the strategies and outcomes of the Bridging the Gaps program, an international multi-agency effort devoted to achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for key populations.
"Communities are central to an effective HIV response among key populations," MSMGF executive director Dr. George Ayala said. "Key populations are socially marginalized and too often subject to abuse and incarceration, blocking access to vital health services. Grassroots organizations play a critical role in addressing the social and structural factors responsible for disease inequity. They often provide the highest quality services to the local community, and they are best positioned to push for more effective government action to address HIV. Global-level advocacy is essential to ensure that local communities of key populations are sustainably-funded, technically prepared, and politically supported to maximize their impact."
The report includes principles of practice for global advocacy, and a theory of change depicting causal chains that lead to improvements in health and human rights for key populations:
The report highlights specific examples of global advocacy, with a focus on their local impact, including:
- Working with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to develop its Key Population Action Plan, against which the international financing organization can be held accountable;
- Successfully lobbying the United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to increase its investments for key populations;
- Supporting the development of World Health Organization guidelines on the prevention and treatment of HIV and other sexually transmissible infections among men who have sex with men, sex workers and people who use drugs, and the 2014 Consolidated Guidelines on HIV Prevention, Diagnosis, Care and Treatment for Key Populations.
The report ends with a brief discussion of issues facing key populations through 2015 and beyond, with strategies planned for addressing these concerns.
"It is shortsighted to believe that science-backed public health interventions alone are enough," the report concludes. "The promise of improved HIV diagnostics and treatment strategies will remain unrealized if key populations are unable to safely access the services they need. However, if we stay the course in close and careful partnership with the growing cadre of advocates at the country level who are ready for continued action, the Bridging the Gaps global partners remain hopeful that we can achieve a world where health and human rights are secured for key populations around the world."
Supported by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the program is a collaboration between five Dutch-based organizations; five global constituency-led networks -- the Global Network of People Living with HIV, the International Network of People Who Use Drugs, the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, the Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF), and the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition; and 80 grassroots organizations across 16 countries.
Katherine Moriarty is a consultant and freelance writer, based in Vancouver. She has 10 years of experience in the intersecting fields of public health and community development, with a focus on bloodborne virus policy and programming.