amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

amfAR Announces Landmark Funding for HIV/AIDS Programs in Eastern Europe and Central Asia



Contact:  Cub Barrett, Manager, Program Communications, (212) 806-1602,

NEW YORK, June 16, 2009—Efforts to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Eastern Europe and Central Asia received a substantial boost today as amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, announced an inaugural round of community awards to grassroots organizations in the region.

Ten awards ranging from $10,000 to $30,000 will go to groups operating in eight countries: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Russia (two awards), Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine (two awards). They will support a wide range of prevention, education, research, and outreach activities aimed at gaining a clearer picture of the HIV epidemic among MSM in the region and expanding access to essential prevention, treatment, and care services. Support for this new round of MSM Initiative community awards was generously provided by the Dutch organization AIDS Fonds.

“The MSM Initiative is the only program working globally and dedicated specifically to supporting frontline groups working with MSM to educate them about the risks associated with HIV/AIDS,” said Kent Klindera, program manager of amfAR’s MSM Initiative. “MSM worldwide have much higher rates of HIV infection than the general population, and this region is no exception. But one of the most important challenges for us is to gather the data necessary to assess needs and create effective programming.” 

Several of the projects being supported will involve the research and documentation of social networks, behaviors, risks, and vulnerability to HIV among MSM. The data generated from these studies will be vitally important for informing the development of regional and national HIV prevention programs. 

One funded project is being conducted by the Republican Youth Public Association “Meeting,” based in Minsk, Belarus. The group will design and implement a research study of at least 500 MSM to generate data that will eventually be compiled and reported to a group of national stakeholders involved in HIV prevention related to MSM in Belarus. The project will focus on sociological factors such as self-identity, social networks, and behavior.
Other projects range from prevention and education programs for incarcerated populations in Ukraine to peer-based interventions for MSM in Siberia.

Eastern Europe and Central Asia reported about 1.5 million people living with HIV in 2007, according to UNAIDS, with a majority of them in the Russian Federation and Ukraine. The epidemic is concentrated largely among injecting drug users and sex workers, but HIV prevalence among MSM in the region continues to grow.

amfAR launched its MSM Initiative in 2007 to support and empower grassroots MSM organizations in their efforts to expand HIV prevention, treatment, and care services, build understanding and awareness of HIV epidemics among MSM, and advocate effective HIV-related policies and increased funding. The Initiative is designed to target countries and regions around the world where MSM are often overlooked as a risk group for HIV transmission.

“The growing epidemic among MSM in Eastern Europe and Central Asia can no longer be ignored, and I am proud that amfAR is one of the first organizations to support HIV programs for MSM in the region,” said amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost. “We’re doing in this region what the MSM Initiative was designed to do: document the vulnerability of MSM to HIV infection, and support HIV prevention, treatment, and care services where they are most needed.”

About amfAR
amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, is one of the world’s leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to the support of AIDS research, HIV prevention, treatment education, and the advocacy of sound AIDS-related public policy. Since 1985, amfAR has invested nearly $290 million in its programs and has awarded grants to more than 2,000 research teams worldwide.

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amfAR – MSM Initiative Community Awards

Project Summaries – Eastern Europe and Central Asia (cycle 1)


Raising Level of Knowledge by Sexual Safety and HIV/AIDS and STI Prevention
Gender Tereqqi maariflendirme ictimai birliyi (Gender & Development), Baku, Azerbaijan, $15,000
This project will reach approximately 300 MSM—many non-self-identified—at cruising areas throughout Baku, providing condoms and water-based lubricant, printed information about HIV, counseling information, and referrals to free STI testing and legal services. 

Factors Promoting Risky Behaviour MSM
Republican Youth Public Association “Meeting”, Minsk, Belarus, $15,000
This project will help researchers design and implement a study focused on sociological factors of self-identity, social networks, behaviors, exposure, risks, and vulnerability among a sample of at least 500 MSM in Minsk, and the collected data could inform the development of national HIV prevention efforts.

Development of Services for Estonian MSM
Eesti HIV-positiivsete võrgustik (EHPV), Tallinn, Estonia, $15,000
This project will help EHPV create a web-based forum on MSM & HIV at, which will provide extensive information about health and rights; facilitate at least three web-based surveys on self-identity, social and sexual networks, behaviors, and HIV exposure and vulnerability; register MSM as listserv members; and refer MSM for health care and social services. The project will also convene experts and stakeholders to discuss issues surrounding HIV among MSM in Estonia, and to formulate recommendations for the Estonian Ministry of Health, Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs, Estonian Parliament, and the City of Tallinn. 

The Preventive Maintenance HIV/AIDS Disease amongst MSM - The Mouth-Kamenogorsk
The Public Association in Support of the People (OO PLZHV Kuat), Mouth-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan, $10,000
This project will help document the health and support needs of MSM in East Kazakhstan while also helping the organization reach MSM with peer outreach and HIV information, treatment for HIV and STIs, and services related to drug addiction and mental health.

PULSAR - Effective HIV/STI Prevention Among MSM in Siberian Regions
The Siberian Alternative Center, NGO, Omsk, Russia, $30,000

(in collaboration with Humanitarian Project)
This project will reach more than 1,300 young MSM in the western Siberian cities of Omsk and Novosibirsk with rights-based, peer-based HIV prevention interventions by recruiting and training peer leaders from identified ‘micro-communities’ of MSM who will provide HIV prevention information and materials. To monitor and evaluate progress, the project will hire a sociologist to survey and map baseline indicators in the identified MSM networks to document individual, social, and structural changes in likely HIV vulnerability and exposure.

Expanding Access for MSM to HIV Information, Prevention Materials, and Quality Healthcare
The Independent Non-Commercial Organization New Life (The New life), Orenburg, Russia, $15,000

This project will reach at least 500 MSM in Orenburg with HIV information and prevention materials, and it will also facilitate access to peer support groups, counseling, and mental health care. In addition to these direct HIV interventions, this project will also support a network of health care providers to improve accessibility and quality of health services for MSM in Orenburg.

Holistic Approach to MSM - LGBT SOS Helpline and Counseling
Gayten-LGBT, Center for Promotion of LGBTIQ Human Rights, Belgrade, Serbia, $14,820

This project will recruit and train MSM as peer counselors and help them reach other MSM with HIV information and prevention materials, in addition to referrals to health care and social services.

Empowering MSM Population on HIV and Building a Support Group for HIV-Positive MSM
Positive Living Association, Istanbul, Turkey, $30,000

(in collaboration with KAOS Gay and Lesbian, Cultural Researches and Solidarity Association)
This project will recruit and train MSM peer counselors in Istanbul and Ankara and will help them produce the first-ever printed and web-based materials about HIV among MSM in Turkey. The project will reach Turkish MSM with HIV prevention and treatment information and materials and will set up referrals for counseling and testing for HIV and STIs. The project will also survey and document MSM needs and the experiences--data that will be presented to at least 30 key stakeholders, including the Turkish Ministry of Health and UNAIDS. 

HIV Prevention and Psychosocial Support for MSM in Prisons of Ukraine
Nikolaev Regional Public Youth Movement Penitentiary Initiative (NRPYM Penitentiary Initiative), Nikolaev, Ukraine, $30,000

(in collaboration with Charitable Foundation Insight and Lugansk Charitable Foundation, Anti-AIDS)
This project will provide HIV prevention education and psychosocial support to MSM in four prisons in the Nikolaev, Lugansk, and Cherkassy regions of Ukraine. The support will include training staff, supplying HIV prevention kits to MSM, and organizing support groups and access to mental health counseling. The project will also work with prisoners, the prison employee union, the Nikolaev LGBT Association (LiGA), and regional government ministries to develop standardized program materials and to document and disseminate program experiences for potential replication in Ukraine and internationally.

Self-Identity, Social and Sexual Networks and HIV Infection Risk for MSM
The Donbas-SocProject (DSP), Donetsk, Ukraine, $14,430
This project will design and implement a research study focused on sociological factors of self-identity, social and sexual networks, and sexual behaviors and potential HIV exposures among MSM in the cities of Mariupol, Gorlovka, Kramatorsk, and Torez with the goal of generating data that could inform the development of HIV prevention efforts. Research data and findings will be compiled and presented to regional and national HIV and LGBT networks, and will be submitted for publication in academic peer-reviewed journals.