On Saturday, July 21, 2012, the MSM Global Forum (MSMGF) held its fifth biennial pre-conference with this year’s theme titled, Stigma to Strength: Strategies for MSM, Transgender People, and Allies in a Shifting AIDS Landscape. The pre-conference attracted more than 600 advocates, policy makers, researchers, and program implementers from around the globe who came together to further seek their passion and strategize in addressing the health and human rights of men who have sex with men and transgender people.
Understanding that this is a crucial time for MSM and transgender people when examining the HIV pandemic, this was an opportunity to explore the social and structural determinants of health. With the evolution of HIV prevention services, policies around LGBT rights, and the access to care, the conversations held by those in attendance was about mobilizing communities and government officials in creating opportunities of social equality and justice among a group that has been marginalized and left behind during the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The experience at MSMGF was wonderful; to interact with such passionate people from all walks of life was a breath-taking. Listening to remarks made by some of our influential leaders such as Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Michael Kirby from the Global Commission on HIV & the Law, and CDC’s Director of HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Dr. Kevin Fenton, was well informative and eye opening. Dr. Fenton talked about the new research and its implications for HIV responses among MSM and transgender people. Latino Commission on AIDS very own Aunsha Hall and Andy Spieldenner, also presented at the conference, which touched on sexual happiness for Black MSM and navigating HIV and health in the global north. As a great kick off to the International AIDS Conference, the MSMGF proved to be successful in its goal in addressing stigma and using global research on HIV among MSM and transgender people to strategize on creating policies that will reshape how HIV prevention and care services are implemented.
Written by Aunhsa Hall