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Welcome to the fifth newsletter of Bridging the Gaps - Health and rights for key populations. 
IN THIS EDITION:

New video
Programme updates Research activities From our blog

Bridging the Gaps wants to achieve universal access to HIV/STI prevention, treatment, care and support for sex workers, LGBT people and people who use drugs. These key populations are typically 10 to 20 times more likely to become infected by HIV while only 8% have access to HIV services. In our approach we want to create added value by focusing simultaneously on all 3 key populations and on the crossovers between them in one single programme. Through our newsletter we keep you updated about the activities and results of Bridging the Gaps, which consists of 21 key population projects in 16 countries as well as 4 global advocacy projects.

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VIDEO: THE CLOSING OF SEX WORKER DETENTION CENTRES IN VIETNAM

A big step for the health and well-being of all Vietnamese women, men & children

Thuy is a former sex worker. She spent many terms in one of Vietnam’s former detention centres, together with thousands of other sex workers. The fear of getting caught made sex workers like Thuy afraid to carry condoms on the street. Moreover, in the centres, sex workers with HIV struggled to get the treatment they needed. After a long journey of lobby and advocacy, the Vietnamese government changed the law and sex worker detention centres were abolished. Check out this video and find out what this means for women like Thuy and to learn about what Bridging the Gaps partners Aids Fonds, SCDI and Noi Binh Yen group will do next in ensuring the health and human rights of sex workers in Vietnam. <Watch the video>

HUMAN RIGHTS INSTRUMENTS OFFER OPPORTUNITIES IN LATIN AMERICA

Latin American LGBT activists participated in a training on the effective use of human rights mechanisms
By Arjos Vendrig, COC
 
Human rights defenders can make good use of available mechanisms. The international human rights instruments of the United Nations (UN) and the Organization of American States (OAS) offer opportunities to realise changes in the treatment of key populations by national governments. In February 2014, in Costa Rica, COC Netherlands and its Costa Rican partner CIPAC implemented a training for activists. Staff of all Latin American partners in Bridging the Gaps’ LGBT project were invited to participate in the training, viz. AHMNP from Panama, Esmules from El Salvador, and Equidad from Ecuador. Also a number of LGBT activists from Bolivia, Honduras, and Nicaragua took part, since their countries will be up for a Universal Periodical Review (UPR) in the same rounds as the Bridging the Gaps partners. The UPR involves an evaluation of the human rights records of the United Nations (UN) member states. <Read more>

RESEARCH: PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLE WHO USE DRUGS IN KENYA

Research results will support lobby work and improve training curricula to address needs of Kenyan PUD
By Miriam Elderhorst, Mainline

In Kenya, the rights of people who use drugs (PUD) are often violated. On the one hand, the country’s Constitution and recently developed health policies and guidelines recognise the human rights, including the health rights, of PUD. On the other hand, the group is criminalised under the country’s laws related to drugs. As part of the Bridging the Gaps programme, Mainline and its partner organisations in Kenya recently conducted research to provide insight into this contradictory situation and the impact on their work aiming at HIV and hepatitis C prevention. <Read more>

FROM OUR BLOG: LEGABIBO RAISES AWARENESS ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY IN BOTSWANA

By Lady, Botswana

When one day, I was in a taxi bus with my gay friends, a passenger talked about things that are offensive to Botswanan culture. He stated that ‘the youth of today’ are imitating the Western lifestyle. When the driver brought up the issue of homosexuality, the bus became a podium of indirect remarks aimed at us. Most of the passengers said that this ‘fashion’ needs to be detoxed and discouraged, and that the only way to stop men from behaving like women and vice versa is to speak strongly against it. I felt completely violated and helpless. <Read more>

LINKING AND LEARNING TO BRIDGE THE HEALTH AND RIGHTS GAPS FOR PEOPLE WHO USE DRUGS
 
Bridging the Gaps partners exchange strategies in Amsterdam
 
Ensured human rights and access to healthcare for people who use drugs (PUD) is on the horizon, and we can get there together if we continue to exchange methodologies and develop joint strategies. This was one of the main conclusions of more than 40 professionals representing people who use drugs from 8 countries who came together in Amsterdam last week. The meeting involved all partners in the Bridging the Gaps PUD project, coordinated by AIDS Foundation East-West and Mainline. Various best practices from different countries were shared and discussed. “I didn’t expect that the different partners would have so much in common. Moreover, this meeting has given me the feeling that our work really matters. That is extremely motivating.” (Shoasee Mohamed, Kenya) <Read more>

NEW LAWS IN UGANDA THREATEN KEY POPULATIONS’ RIGHTS AND HEALTH

WONETHA challenges AHA 2014, APA 2014 and the HIV Bill
By Flavia Kyomukama, WONETHA

The passing of three new laws in Uganda will be a direct attack on sexual and gender minorities. The Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) 2014 and Anti-Pornography Act (APA) 2014 have the President’s assent, while the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Bill (HIV Bill) 2010 is expected to be signed. The laws violate the rights of key populations and encourage intolerance in society. Bridging the Gaps partner WONETHA  (Women’s organisation network for human rights advocacy) has embarked on a two-pronged approach to seek justice: a legislative angle and sensitisation. <Read more>

RESEARCH: RECORDING EXPERIENCES OF LGBT PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV IN ECUADOR

Data collected in Ecuador will guide Bridging the Gaps partners in other countries
By Efraín Soria,Equidad and Mandy Geise

Across the globe, the predicament of LGBT people living with HIV have many similarities. Worldwide, stigma surrounding HIV, sexual orientation, and gender identity has the power to function as an impediment to health, prevention, and treatment services. And worldwide, people living with HIV can be at the center of change. Our research conducted in Ecuador provides valuable illustrations of coping strategies. <Read more>

FROM OUR BLOG: WE ARE HERE TO SAVE PEOPLE’S LIVES!

By Elliot, South Africa

There is still a long way to go in terms of health and sexuality in the society where I live in. Peer educators of OUT Well-Being, including myself, play a vital role in giving good information and building an empowered LGBT community in South Africa. The person who really inspires me, is Delene van Dijck, our consultant. She trains OUT Well-Being staff and develops the information that we give to the LGBT community. In addition, she gives advice about the best ways of actually distributing this information, to make it most effective. <Read more>
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