My name is Myagmardorj D. I have been working as the Executive Director for a “Youth for Health” Non Government Organisation which aims to serve as a bridge for men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender communities to implement health and human right services in Mongolia for 5 years.
From 28th to 30th January 2015, I joined the Asia-Pacific Intergovernmental Meeting on HIV and AIDS in Bangkok for the second time. During the meeting, participants discussed and analysed how the governments in Asia and the Pacific have implemented their responsibility to prevent HIV, to improve treatment and supports as they had made a commitment since 2012. In addition, I feel excited after I attended the civil society meeting “Don’t Leave Communities Behind” as a delegation of the CSO on 27th January. It was a great opportunity for me to gain experience from the other countries’ communities and to hear about their practices on the HIV issues.
In Mongolia, HIV prevelance is less than 0.01% of the general population. We have found by comparison with many other countries. People living with HIV are facing fewer problems. Nonetheless, like many of the countries in the region, almost 80% of the total infections, identify as either MSM or transgender people. The latest survey done in 2013 shows that the HIV infection among the MSM people have increased by 13% meaning we are in a serious situation.
In Mongolia, the governmental budget spending on HIV is extremley scarce; however, since 2014, people living with HIV are provided with ARV treatment by subsidisded 100% by the government. While treatment is supported by domestic funding, prevention activities for the ‘risky groups’ like MSM, transgender people and sex workers are implemented with support from Global Fund.
This point was discussed during the meeting with many of the governmental delegates, development organisers and financial specialists realizing the importance of mobilizing internal funds and domestic resources. We’re currently at the point where we can’t rely on international donors for dedicating finance on national activities of HIV/AIDS.
In Mongolia, we don’t have any friendly laws or social protection for sexual minorities. Sex work is prohibited by law and many of these communities still experience stigma and discrimination pushing these people to be more hidden and become less accessible making it hard to reach prevention and treatment services.
Nevertheless, we’re not going to sit around and do nothing, we want to improve the health and wellbeing for communities. This is often done with the support of some communities and NGOs in cooperation with UN partners. Together they have implemented approved promotional campaigns/activities and had many positive resolutions. However, the outcome is not always accountable as decision makers often change their minds.
I attended this meeting along with Social Health Division’s Director Oyuntsetseg from Department of Policy Planning of Health under Ministry of Health and Sport together with Human Rights Activist Otgonbaatar Ts. We participated in this meeting on behalf of Mongolia. There we joined other country delegates to discuss and join in an exchange of ideas relating to the government, NGOs and CBOs’ accomplishments, difficulties, further efforts and plans on HIV in Mongolia.
This meeting was organised and joined by more than 30 countries’ governmental organisations, international organisations, and civil society and youth representatives from Asia and the Pacific region under the theme “Don’t Leave Communities Behind.”
Finally, the representatives joined together confirming their commitment to end HIV/AIDS by the year 2030. This will be done by providing friendly legal and political environments for the high-risk community and groups for HIV. Hopefully, the outcome from the meeting will help to improve the quality of services and treatment, prevent HIV and become zero discrimination against people living with HIV.
For more information about Youth for Health Mongolia, go to www.gay.mn or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Залуус-эрүүл-мэнд-төв-ТББ