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Latest estimates from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) show that the world continues to close in on the goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by stopping HIV transmission and halting AIDS-related deaths. Remarkable progress has been made over the last decade—yet significant challenges remain.
Objective of the evaluation
The Connecting The Dots (CTD) regional strategy lays out a five year vision for all units of the B-Change Group.
The purpose of CTD is to articulate how the group intends to bring community engagement in a Web 2.0 world to the next level. The focus of the strategy is to support the well-being of young people in the global South, by promoting health, human rights and civic participation.
The B-Change Group will work collaboratively across the business units and form partnerships with other like-minded organisations to execute the strategy in hopes of achieving long-lasting positive change in communities.
Support for the publication of the Connecting The Dots strategy was provided by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), under the ISEAN-HIVOS Multi-Country Global Fund Programme (ME1–011-G01-H) and the UNDP/USAID ‘Being LGBT in Asia’ initiative.
Keywords: LGBT, youth, human rights, civil society, community, discrimination, sexual identity
Sri Lanka prohibits same-sex activities and relations under Articles 365 and 365A of the Penal Code. This law is often used to extract bribes and threaten individuals and LGBT organizations. Sri Lanka does not have laws that specifically protect the rights of PLHIV and people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. Legal reviews commissioned by the UN categorized Sri Lanka as “prohibitive in high intensity” and “highly repressive” for MSM. In 2010, only one STI drop-in centre with specific services for MSM was found in Sri Lanka. The proportion of voluntary counselling and testing users that are MSM is approximately 14 percent. HIV prevention care and support interventions have commenced in five districts through Global Fund Round 9, with potential to continue until 2015. Negative societal attitudes towards homosexuality discourage access to critical services targeted at MSM. While many organizations have demonstrated interest in working with MSM, few have demonstrated the organizational capacity to do so. The capacity of NGOs based in regions outside of Colombo to deliver HIV services is especially limited. Services conducted by MSM community-based organizations (CBOs) include peer-led education, counselling on safer sexual behaviours, condom and lubricant use, reducing number of partners, and STI counselling, testing, and referrals.
The 2010 Nepal Country Progress Report identified positive outcomes that resulted from the Supreme Court decision such as a dramatic reduction in violence against LGBTI from the state party; an increase in MSM/LGBTI openly disclosing their sexual orientation to their families and to the public; and, positive shifts in attitude among the general population, political parties, government, and the media towards LGBTI. The government has begun allocating funds for enabling the planning and implementation of programs that benefit this LGBTI and local district governments are supporting small-scale MSM/LGBTI programs. The official recognition of third gender in Nepal includes recent moves by the Home Ministry to issue citizenship documents for sexual and gender minorities (as an ‘other’ category) for those that request it without the need to submit any medical or other evidence.
Penal Code 2004 Code 213 criminalizes sodomy or any other sexual conduct that is against the “order of nature.” Penalties include a prison sentence of up to one year. There is no evidence that Penal Code 2004 Code 213 has ever been enforced. A recent UNDP report categorised Bhutan’s legal system as “moderately prohibitive.” There is very little published information about MSM population in Bhutan. Little is known about the nature of same-sex sexual activity in Bhutan. Anecdotes exist of sex between men occurring in army barracks, prison cells, and monk dormitories. There are no known epidemiologic studies focusing on MSM in Bhutan. A recent behavioral assessment in two major towns found evidence of high-risk behavior among key affected populations, including MSM. There are no known community-based responses to HIV among MSM in Bhutan. There are no known national MSM networks in Bhutan. There is no information on the extent to which Bhutan’s national health system is inclusive of MSM or other sexual minorities.
The Government of Bangladesh first adopted a comprehensive national policy on HIV/AIDS and STD s in 1997, which was followed by the release of the first National Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS, also in 1997. The National Health Policy 2011 of the Government of Bangladesh recognizes the right to health as a basic human right. The importance of public health, the control of disease, gender equality and access to health services by disadvantaged classes, are recognized in the National Health Policy 2011. Bangladesh now has its third National Strategic Plan for HIV and AIDS Response, 2011 – 2015. Bangladesh’s third national HIV/AIDS strategic plan prioritizes intervention packages for key affected populations.
This framework was developed to assist organizations in South Asia to work together on advocacy priorities for removing the legal and policy barriers that prevent MSM and transgender people from enjoying the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, particularly in relation to access to HIV prevention, treatment and care. It is focused as much on governments and national AIDS Programmes as it is on community organizations, as partnerships between governments and civil society have proven to be an effective vehicle for change in this area.
It provides the background commitments, guidelines and evidence that can support advocacy efforts and a process that groups and individuals can follow to identify what needs to change, who they can work in partnership with and what strategies they can use.
It focuses on the contribution that human rights and the law make to health for individuals and communities. “HIV thus represents a good example of the multi-faceted relationship between health and human rights. It shows how health policies and legislation can impact detrimentally on human rights, while violations of human rights can detrimentally affect health”.
Getting to zero HIV new infections in Asia and the Pacific region: Possible or impossible dream?
Between September 2012 and March 2013 the Global Thematic Consultation on Health in the Post-2015 Development Agenda received inputs from people and organizations around the world on how best to ensure the health of future generations. The objectives for the consultation were: