Coverage of Key Populations at the 2012 International AIDS Conference:
Findings from a Program Audit and Implications for Leadership in the Global AIDS Response
Authors: This report was jointly produced by the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF), Global Action for Trans* Equality (GATE), the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health, the Harm Reduction Coalition, the International Network of People Who Use Drugs (INPUD), Different Avenues, and the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP).
A new report released on June 4th, 2013 by a coalition of global advocacy organizations shows that the International AIDS Conference (IAC) program continues to lack meaningful coverage of HIV-related issues concerning men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people, people who inject drugs (PWID), and sex workers. Featuring a systematic quantitative audit and qualitative analysis of the full AIDS 2012 abstract-driven program, the report’s findings include:
- Only 17% of all abstracts at AIDS 2012 were exclusively focused on one of the four key populations, reflecting little improvement over key population coverage at AIDS 2010, which was 16.8%.
- More abstracts on key populations focused on individual risk factors (40%) than any other topic, exceeding structural factors (26%); primary prevention (19%); testing, care, and treatment (15%); and surveillance (10%).
- Only 29% of abstracts on key populations focused on describing interventions, while 71% described vulnerabilities without offering detailed solutions.
- Nearly two-thirds of all abstracts on key populations were focused on 10 countries alone.
“This kind of coverage of most-at-risk populations at the world’s premier AIDS event is unacceptable, especially given how far the AIDS sector has progressed,” said Dr. George Ayala, Executive Director of the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) and co-author of the report. “It is time for the IAC to update its processes to ensure more high-quality abstracts on key populations are included, tying the conference program to current epidemiological realities and pushing the field toward more effective strategies. The IAC could do so much better”
The conference represents unparalleled opportunities to impact the global epidemic, and it carries great influence in the global AIDS field. By taking several concrete steps, the IAC’s organizers can enhance the relevance of the conference to key populations, leveraging its unique position as a convener and platform for knowledge exchange to strengthen the global response to the epidemic among MSM, transgender people, PWID, and sex workers:
· Community Consultations
Conduct community consultations with each key population to determine program topics that would be most valuable to community members, advocates, and service providers working with key populations in the lead-up to AIDS 2014.
· Targeted Call for Abstracts
Use the results from the community consultations to inform the conference’s call for abstracts, explicitly stating that topics identified through community consultations will be prioritized for acceptance.
· Match Abstracts with Reviewers Based on Expertise
Develop a system for matching abstracts on key populations with reviewers who have expertise on the population and related issues in question; ensure reviewers have a strong understanding of the nature and value of community-based research and programming.
· Advocate for Better Funding and Support for Research on Key Populations
As a leader in the field, the IAC and the International AIDS Society (IAS) that organizes it are well positioned to advocate with large funders and research institutions for more appropriate funding and support for research on key populations that responds to community needs.
· Increase Conference Accessibility for Key Populations
1. Choose a location that is accessible to MSM, transgender people, PWID, sex workers, and people living with HIV to encourage more balanced program content and conference deliberations.
2. Create a scholarship fund to support more robust attendance of key population leaders, helping to ensure they gain the full range of benefits of participation and that the voices of key populations are represented at influential dialogues on site.
The above republished abstract was written by Jack Beck from MSMGF.