According to a policy brief titled “The Value of Investing in MSM Programs in the Asia and the Pacific region”, developed by the USAID Health Policy Initiative and APCOM (March 2008), there is strong evidence establishing male-to-male sex as one of the driving forces of HIV transmission in the region. HIV prevalence among MSM and transgender populations ranges from 3 to 17% in Asia-Pacific countries (5 to 15 times higher than overall HIV prevalence). In India, for instance, the latest estimates by National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) show that prevalence among MSM and transgender populations was 5.7% in 2006 as against the overall adult of 0.36%.
Technical and funding support based on such evidence for large scale strategic interventions that address maleto- male and transgender sexualities and related HIV vulnerabilities is only now beginning to materlize in the region. One of the first steps needed in scaling up this response is to map the populations concerned and their representative groups, organisations and networks. This study carried out by India Naz Foundation International aimed at such a mapping of MSM groups, organisations and networks in the South Asian countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka Mongolia has been included in the sub region at their request.
The study focused on male who have sex with male populations, given that not enough known about their specific vulnerabilities to HIV and the response that is already under the way to address the vulnerabilities. More specifically, the study looked at;
a. Creation of a database of groups, organisations and networks addressing HIV prevention, care, support and treatment issues of MSM population in South Asia.
b. Assess the geographical spread and coverage of these groups, organisations and networks.
c. Assess their current HIV response; and
d. Assess their readiness for scaling up the response
The study covered both community-based organisations (CBOs) and other voluntary (and private sector) agencies to gain a comprehensive overview.
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