Press Release

New UNFPA Tool on Implementing HIV and STI Programmes with Men who have Sex with Men

8 September 2015
Author: UNFPA

UNITED NATIONS, New York—A tool for implementing comprehensive programmes on HIV and sexually transmitted infections with men who have sex with men was released today by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.

The publication, Implementing Comprehensive HIV and STI Programmes with Men Who Have Sex With Men: practical guidance for collaborative interventions, presents concrete steps that public-health officials, health workers and non-governmental organizations can use to implement HIV and STI programmes for men who have sex with men.

The tool was developed by UNFPA and The Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF), together with the United Nations Development Programme, the World Health Organization, the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief through the United States Agency for International Development, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Informally called the MSMIT (MSM implementation tool), the publication provides operational guidance on the Consolidated guidelines on HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for key populations, published in 2014 by WHO.  The Consolidated Guidelines outline the services that men who have sex with men need, and the MSMIT explains how to implement these services.

The tool’s six chapters cover community empowerment, addressing violence against men who have sex with men, condom and lubricant programming, delivering health-care services, integrating information and communication technology into programming, and programme management.

“While many low- and middle-income countries have developed national HIV programmes, in most places, men who have sex with men remain at disproportionate risk of infection for HIV and resources are often poorly targeted for them,” said George Ayala, executive director of MSMGF. “Globally, at each stage along the continuum of prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care of HIV and other STIs, not enough men who have sex with men in need of services actually get them. The MSMIT aims to help planners design and put into action comprehensive programmes across the whole spectrum,” said George Ayala.

Community empowerment is foundational to the MSMIT since communities understand best what services they need and how these should be delivered. Empowering communities is a way to make services more effective and cost-efficient.

The tool contains case examples of promising practices drawn from programmes around the world, showing how they have tackled challenges and found creative solutions to providing programmes in environments with few resources, or where there are legal or social obstacles to providing services to men who have sex with men.

“These examples show that it can be done,” said Benoit Kalasa, Director of UNFPA’s Technical Division. “Around the world, there are organizations, big and small, that are finding ways to help men who have sex with men protect their health and their rights. We hope these examples will provide ideas and encouragement to programme providers.”