ViiV Healthcare today awarded its first round of small grants to support men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender community-led interventions to reduce stigma and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and/or HIV status. 23 non-governmental and community-based organisations will receive up to £25,000 per year over a two year period through the Positive Action for MSM and Transgender programme.

Positive Action which was created in 1992 as the first pharmaceutical company programme to support communities affected by HIV and AIDS. Positive Action works with those communities most vulnerable to HIV disease, including youth, girls and women, sex workers, gay men, men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people, injecting drug users (IDU), the homeless and the incarcerated. The projects range across education, prevention, care and treatment-related activity such as treatment literacy and community/clinical engagement. ViiV Healthcare is a global specialist HIV company established in November 2009 by GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer dedicated to delivering advances in treatment and care for people living with HIV. Shionogi joined in October 2012. The company’s aim is to take a deeper and broader interest in HIV/AIDS than any company has done before and take a new approach to deliver effective and new HIV medicines, as well as support communities affected by HIV.

Grantees from the following countries were selected from 237 applications received from 79 countries:

Bolivia
Canada
El Salvador
Germany
Ghana
Guyana
India
Latvia
Macedonia
Malaysia
Middle East and North Africa
Namibia
New Zealand
Pakistan
Paraguay
Russia
Rwanda
South Africa
Tanzania
Thailand
United States
Vietnam

The grantees’ organisations – which run projects in 38 countries all over the world – were selected by an advisory board of external experts following a formal call for proposal in March 2015.

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We can attribute the overwhelming number of applications received as part of our first small grants Request for Proposal to the enormous need to help reduce societal pressures, such as stigma and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, that people living with HIV face,” said Michael N. Joyner, director of Positive Action and Patient Advocacy, ViiV Healthcare. “Through the Positive Action for MSM and Transgender programme, we hope to address the impact of the HIV epidemic in this underserved population.

The chairman of the Positive Action MSM and Transgender programme advisory board, Juan Jacobo Hernandez from Colectivo Sol added, “The grantees’ organisations – through their geographies and the scope of the programmes – selected will help make a real difference to MSM and transgender individuals in local communities all over the world. In that sense, the Positive Action programme is a welcome addition to existing interventions that address the challenges of stigma and discrimination.

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Selected grantees will receive funding to carry out projects that specifically relate to achieving three outcomes:

1) Reducing the level and impact of stigma experienced by MSM and transgender individuals
2) Increasing access to health related services
3) Enhancing the capacity of community based organisations that engage MSM and transgender communities in reducing HIV

MSM and transgender populations are often stigmatised and isolated. Positive Action for MSM and Transgender launched in March 2015 to support interventions that will empower MSM and transgender communities who face significant stigma, discrimination and inadequate access to appropriate HIV care. Through the programme, ViiV Healthcare has committed to invest £2 million per year – £1 million to fund small grants and another £1 million for targeted interventions – to support these communities as they develop their capacity to lead, participate in policy-making and address the severe health disparities and health service access issues affecting MSM and transgender individuals.

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Globally, MSM and transgender individuals are among those at highest risk of HIV infection; however, the World Bank estimates that fewer than one in 10 MSM and transgender individuals worldwide has access to the most basic package of preventive interventions. Prevalence rates among MSM and transgender populations are consistently higher than for men of reproductive age in the general population wherever MSM have been studied; and scant data on transgender individuals reveals transgender women are 48.8 times more likely to be infected with HIV than the general population.

Globally, young people comprise over 40% of new HIV infection and many of them are MSM and transgender individuals.

To learn more about the Positive Action for MSM and Transgender programme or for information on how to submit a proposal for the next call for proposals, please visit: https://www.viivhealthcare.com/community-partnerships/positive-action-for-msm-transgender/

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