Asia Pacific: AIDS Grants Tackle Gay HIV Spread
December 22, 2009
Australia recently pledged to provide $3 million (US $2.65 million) over the next three years for HIV prevention among men who have sex with men (MSM) in the Asia Pacific region. The AusAid grant will target Indonesia, Burma and Papua New Guinea. Critics, however, say MSM programs have been overlooked in the region for some time, and the amount pales in comparison with what is needed.
"The [Independent Commission on AIDS in Asia] report, released in 2008, indicated that by 2020 infections arising from sex between men would be the largest single contributor across Asia for new infections, so it would contribute to 46 percent of new infections by 2020 unless programs scale up for MSM," said Don Baxter, executive director of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organizations. Effective HIV prevention efforts would need "something like $30 million to $60 million (US $26.5 million-$35 million) over the next five years on gay men and MSM in the region," Baxter said.
Indonesia will receive $1.5 million (US $1.3 million) to assist the roll-out of its MSM prevention plan. The remaining funds will be split between the Three Diseases Fund for prevention programs in Burma and Papua New Guinea's National AIDS Council for legal reform and improvements in education and health services.
The Philippines is also in need of assistance, Baxter said. "There's a body of research which seems to indicate there's a high risk [with] well-organized sexual networks some Filipinos refer to as 'eyeball parties,' which means the boys have their eyeballs peeled on their mobile phones and Internet screens to see where the next party is about to happen," he said. "They're often in private homes or apartments, so the availability of condoms and lubricants is often not there and there's no sense of safe-sex culture."
Sydney Star Observer
12.15.2009; Scott Abrahams