July 17, 2010

Be heard! Global Forum on MSM & HIV

The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) starts the 4th pre-conference on July 17, 2010 to the 18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna Austria. This one-day event explores the challenges and best practices in achieving universal access to HIV-related prevention, care, treatment, and support services for sexual minority communities worldwide.

Be Heard! convenes 450 human rights advocates, artists, researchers, public health officials, multi-lateral organizations, and global donors for a day of workshops, skills building, information exchange, and networking sessions. The MSM pre-conference will be followed by an evening networking reception.

MSMGF recommends a rights-based and person-centered approach to developing guidelines that will help transgender persons receive non-discriminatory, non-judgmental and quality health care. There has been an international wave of advocacy calling on authorities such as the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and World Health Organization (WHO) to depathologize transgender identities. Pathologizing gender identity variance as a ‘psychiatric disorder’ only perpetuates the stigma, discrimination and violence that these individuals experience around the world.

As a global advocacy organization working for the health and human rights of men who have sex with men (MSM), the MSMGF is familiar with stigma within health system structures and its negative impact on individuals and communities. For instance, the classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder by institutions such as the APA until 1973 and the WHO until 1993 helped endorse discrimination against gay men and other MSM at multiple levels. Stigma and discrimination impact health by heightening HIV risk factors, including social isolation, and compromising access to HIV prevention, care and treatment services. Transgender persons are also the targets of stigma and discrimination that can be exacerbated by a mental diagnosis, ultimately resulting in compromised health and wellness.

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