amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

In the Face of Stigma and Violence, amfAR Awards Help Grassroots Groups in Africa Combat Homophobia and HIV

Awards, focusing on seven countries in Africa, boost HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, testing, and treatment efforts 

For Immediate Release

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

NEW YORK, February 22, 2011—As men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender individuals in many parts of the world face increasing levels of homophobic rhetoric and violence, amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research on Tuesday announced a third round of African community awards made through its MSM Initiative, designed to support frontline groups working directly with local MSM and transgender populations.

The eight African awards, which will provide funding for HIV/AIDS services, research, and policy efforts, range from $10,000 to $20,000 each. The need for such awards is especially acute in Africa given the prevalence of HIV among MSM and transgender individuals. These high rates of infection are exacerbated by some of the world’s most punitive laws and policies against MSM, said MSM Initiative Director Kent Klindera.

“Based on the rampant homo- and transphobia and near constant threat of violence faced by MSM and transgender individuals in many parts of Africa, the work these groups do to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic cannot be overstated,” Klindera said. “They’re doing important, lifesaving, and very difficult work in the face of stigma and discrimination every day, and we consider them vital partners in our efforts to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS on the continent.”

In Africa, where about 23 million people were living with HIV/AIDS in 2009, according to UNAIDS—by far the largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the world—funded projects include the first ever qualitative study of HIV knowledge and sexual behavior among transgendered women in South Africa; a prevention and advocacy project for MSM by MSM in Zimbabwe; and two projects in Cameroon that are working together to extend access to HIV education and treatment to MSM throughout the country.

Demonstrating the success of the MSM Initiative’s partners, several of the projects will build on work funded by previous awards—a testament to the return on investment of the awards.

“As we continue to work with many of the groups that have already received funding—and who have already made a difference with it—it’s gratifying for amfAR and our MSM Initiative to see the real impact of the awards we’ve given,” said amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost. “We look at these grassroots groups as regional partners in the fight against stigma and the quest to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, and we’re constantly amazed at their bravery and dedication.”

Since its launch in July 2007, amfAR’s MSM Initiative has made 123 community awards totaling more than US$2.3 million to support 93 frontline organizations serving MSM in 60 countries. Awards have been made in low- and middle-income countries in five regions of the world: Africa, Asia-Pacific, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe/Central Asia, and Latin America.

Studies show that the need for such work is vital: A 2007 analysis of data from 38 low- and middle-income countries showed that MSM are 19 times more likely to be infected with HIV than the general population. These rates are consistent across the globe, even in African nations that have generalized epidemics. Yet according to United Nations estimates, by late 2007, a mere eight percent of MSM had been reached by comprehensive HIV prevention programs.

See the full list of amfAR’s third round of African community awards made through its MSM Initiative 

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 $325 million in its programs and has awarded grants to more than 2,000 research teams worldwide.