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

Stepping up the Pace: 20th International AIDS Conference, Melbourne, Australia, 20-25 July 2014

Loss of our beloved colleagues

Looking back, moving forward: highlights from the International AIDS Conference 2014

From our blog


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THE 20TH INTERNATIONAL AIDS CONFERENCE: STEPPING UP THE PACE

Bridging the Gaps team members and partners from across the world attended the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, under the theme ‘Stepping up the Pace’, on 20-25 July 2014. The AIDS Conference is the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV and AIDS, as well as policy makers, persons living with HIV and other individuals committed to ending the pandemic. In spite of the incredibly sad news that six delegates were killed in the MH17 crash, all attendees were determined to achieve the conference’s targets: assess where we are, evaluate recent developments and lessons learnt, and collectively chart a course forward. Key populations were at the centre of the conference, which closed with the Melbourne Declaration: a new commitment to placing key populations at the centre of the global HIV response. This newsletter presents some of the conference highlights relating to key populations. 




LOSS OF OUR BELOVED COLLEAGUES

One minute of silence for the six delegates that were killed in the MH17 at the opening of the conference


The AIDS Conference 2014 was overshadowed by the crash of flight MH17, on 17 July 2014. We were devastated to hear that six AIDS experts were killed while travelling to the conference in Melbourne, Australia. Bridging the Gaps lead agency Aids Fonds mourns the loss of two wonderful colleagues: Martine de Schutter (Programme Manager Bridging the Gaps) and Pim de Kuijer (Lobbyist). We also mourn the loss of Joep Lange, Jacqueline van Tongeren, Lucy van Mens, and Glenn Thomas – people who committed their lives and work to HIV and AIDS.

IN MEMORY OF MARTINE DE SCHUTTER

Martine de Schutter was deeply involved in the fight against inequality and a strong advocate for universal health care. After working for the World Health Organization in South America, she returned to the Netherlands to work on the international response to STIs. Since 2004, she was the key player in AIDS Action Europe, a European network connecting over 400 AIDS organisations in Europe and Central Asia. 
Read more

NEW WHO GUIDELINES FOR KEY POPULATIONS
Including clear-cut definitions of key populations and recommendations for developing and implementing HIV prevention plans

The WHO released its new Consolidated guidelines on HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for key populations, on 11 July 2014. These guidelines set out the priority services and interventions required to meet the needs of people who are at high risk of HIV infection: people who inject drugs, sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender people, and people in prisons and other closed settings. In this 184-page publication – launched at AIDS 2014 in Melbourne – the WHO brings together all existing guidance relevant to key populations, and updates selected guidance and recommendations. Key populations are disproportionally affected by HIV in all countries and settings. So far, WHO had developed normative guidance separately for each of the five key populations without adequately addressing overarching issues. And the WHO global HIV guidance did not specifically consider issues relating to key populations. The Consolidated guidelines aim to address these gaps and limitations. Read more

THE VALUE OF LINKING AND LEARNING EVENTS

INPUD’s South-to-South approach, with in-country activities in East Africa, illustrates the value of linking and learning events. It also provides concrete examples of the significance of local, national, and regional networks of people who use drugs. At the AIDS Conference 2014, Bridging the Gaps initiated a panel discussion on ‘Strategic collaboration and cross-linkages for the health and rights of key populations’. During this meeting, INPUD presented the start of the ReACT network in Tanzania. The Kenyan Network of People who Use Drugs (KenPUD) is the leading voice in human rights advocacy in the East African region. The network has created a regional environment that has enabled the seeding of several interlinked networks, all of which have access to common learning resources tailored to their local needs. KeNPUD is now seeing the addition and inclusion of men who have sex with men (MSM) and sex workers who use drugs. Read more 

KEY POPULATIONS IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT – IN HONOUR OF PIM AND MARTINE

Bridging the Gaps Programme Manager Martine de Schutter, who was among the deceased in flight MH17, had carefully planned Bridging the Gaps’ presence at the AIDS Conference 2014. She was most excited about the satellite meeting she had been preparing with so many programme partners: ‘Key populations in the driver’s seat’. Martine put a lot of energy and dedication in organising the event, which she wanted to be a great success. During the conference in Melbourne, all Bridging the Gaps partners and colleagues had a very sad and turbulent time after they heard about the tragic death of six conference attendees. Yet, we decided to proceed with the satellite meeting, in loving memory of Martine and Pim, and all the others we lost. The meeting indeed turned out to be a great success. On Thursday 24 July, at 7 AM, around 145 people gathered to learn about good practices from the Bridging the Gaps programme. Read more

IN MEMORY OF PIM DE KUIJER 

‘I was an activist diplomat, but I prefer to be a diplomatic activist now.’ This is what Pim de Kuijer said when he joined STOP AIDS NOW! as a lobbyist in 2012. Later, he also became a lobbyist for Aids Fonds. Pim was good at choosing the right words. He was a straightforward person; he preferred ‘lobbyist’ on his business card, not the more ambiguous ‘policy advisor’. Read more

TRANSGENDER WOMEN ARE THE FORGOTTEN COMMUNITY

‘When you are rejected and discriminated against so many times, it is not easy to trust.’ These are the words of Cecilia Chung, a transgender woman living with HIV, talking about the multiple challenges faced by a stigmatised key population, layered with the stigma of HIV. Cecilia was speaking at a satellite session hosted by the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) at the 2014 AIDS Conference. As an outspoken campaigner for transgender rights, and a Senior Strategist with the Transgender Law Center in San Francisco, Cecilia deplores the poor levels of access to HIV services for transgender populations, which results in 34 percent of transgender people living with HIV in San Francisco having a CD4 count below 350, despite the high state budget which can afford their treatment and care. Read more

‘PLEASE, STOP FUNDING SEWING-MACHINES’

One of the many partners of Bridging the Gaps that attended the AIDS Conference 2014 was WONETHA, a sex worker-led organisation in Uganda. In a packed auditorium, Daisy Nakato Namakula, Executive Director of WONETHA, spoke about the ongoing struggle for sex workers’ rights in her country and the importance of placing sex workers at the center of developing policies that affect them. ‘If I wanted a sewing-machine, I would have bought a sewing-machine myself’ was Daisy’s comment on programmes that only see sex workers as victims. Click here to see Daisy’s plenary presentation starts at 1 hour and 13 minutes 

SPECIAL EDITION OF THE LANCET ON HIV AND SEX WORKERS

During AIDS 2014, a special edition of medical journal The Lancet on HIV and sex workers was launched – a remarkable and unprecedented collaboration between scientists and community leaders. The issue includes a community person as a guest editor, while each of the papers in the issue has a sex worker as co-author. The papers aim to investigate the complex issues faced by sex workers worldwide. Read more about the special edition of The Lancet 

BLOG: WE WON THE RED RIBBON AWARD 2014
Blog by Edo Agustian, Coordinator of the Indonesian Network of People who Use Drugs (PKNI)

It was a huge surprise! My organisation PKNI won the Red Ribbon Award 2014, the world’s leading award for innovative and outstanding community work in the response to the AIDS epidemic. We did not have any expectations, as we knew the competition was fierce. Almost 1,000 organisations from around the world had been nominated. Ten community-based organisations won the Award for their inspiring work in reducing the impact of the AIDS epidemic. PKNI won in the category ‘Advocacy and human rights’. The sense of international acknowledgement and validation that comes with this Award is very important to the work that PKNI and many other organisations doRead Edo’s full blog story

 

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