African Commission recognizes that closing civic space hurts the fight against HIV

Civil society groups are under attack: in many countries, new laws and police crackdowns make it harder for groups to register, hold meetings, organize events, even to post online. CIVICUS found “serious threats to civic freedom” in 100 countries last year. This is disastrous for countries facing a high burden of HIV, where civil society has often led the way, and it especially affects the criminalized, hidden populations most vulnerable to HIV: sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender people, and people who inject drugs. This report, which I wrote for Global Philanthropy Project last year, documents case studies of LGBT groups facing closing space in four countries, including Kenya.

Under the circs, it’s great news that the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights has recognized the threat in a new resolution on human rights defenders in Africa.

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Aid eligibility in a mobile, high-velocity world

 

Wealthy countries need to invest every penny they can to combat global epidemics. Massive inequity in access to health care means that millions of people die each year of preventable, treatable diseases like HIV, TB and malaria. But who should be eligible for global health aid? Not so easy to answer. We’re stuck with some 20th century tools that don’t fit our high-velocity, globalizing world.

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How Will We Know When It’s the End of AIDS?

end-of-aids

In the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the UN has called for the world to end AIDS by 2030. But the global AIDS response may be a victim of its own success, or of its snappy slogans — donor countries are starting to de-prioritize funding for HIV, in part because they think that the end is near.

So how near are we, really, to the end of AIDS?

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How punitive laws lead to bad HIV data

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My article with William Goedel, John Emerson and Brooke Skartvedt Guven was published in the Journal of the International AIDS Society this weekend. Working with data on laws and HIV from 154 countries over seven years (2007-14), we found that criminalization of same-sex sexuality is associated with implausibly low or absent size estimates of men who have sex with men (MSM) reported by countries to UNAIDS.

Low size estimates may contribute to official denial that MSM exist; to failure to adequately address their needs; and to inflated HIV service coverage reports that paint a false picture of success.

We didn’t use this term in the article, but in my head I’ve been calling this “quantitative deconstruction” — using numbers to peal back the facade of other numbers, revealing the politics that drive what countries report to the UN.

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TB, Human Rights and the Law: “Tell it like it is”

GroupStop TB Partnership’s workshop on TB and human rights this week fired up a diverse group with plans for action. The meeting brought lawyers and community activists together with UN agencies and donors to brainstorm ways to use the law and community empowerment to mobilize faster action on TB.

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Models meet reality? TB meets HIV

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A recent letter to the Lancet argues that mathematical modelling on cost-effectiveness of tuberculosis control efforts fail to account for real-world challenges: “Political determinants such as … political disruptions, migration, poverty…which are at the root of existing tuberculosis and emerging anti-tuberculosis drug resistance in the world.”

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Teaching about sexual violence in conflicts/emergencies

cerah-sexual-violence-group3For the past year, I’ve been coordinating a series of short courses on sexual violence in conflicts and emergencies. There is a profound stigma around the issue, so I’m pleasantly surprised if you even click on this link and keep reading. If you do, you’ve taken the first step, breaking the internal stigma that makes addressing the problem so difficult.

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Global Fund KPIs: Accountability and the hall of mirrors

img_0591About two weeks ago, the Global Fund Observer, a newsletter that reports on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, published an article about the Fund’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The article raised concerns about the process of developing the KPIs, citing a letter written by the 10 country and NGO constituencies on the Global Fund Board that implement grants (the “Implementers Group”) to the chairs of the committee that are developing KPI targets.

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Posted in Aid accountability, Data, Health finance, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

You need not die of boredom in Geneva

img_0469Planning a visit to Geneva, Switzerland – for a meeting, business, or to save the broken world?

Many people say Geneva is boring. I know — I used to be one of them. Over the years I’ve found a few places to love.

So grab your tram ticket and start with…

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In 2017, set global health targets from the ground up

grand-anse-beach-040117I’m lucky to be starting 2017 in Grenada, a flawlessly beautiful island nation of just 100,000 people. But Grenada, like many countries, has found it hard to gather basic HIV data in a context where same-sex sexuality and sex work are illegal.

You can circle the whole country in a jeep in one sunny afternoon, as a friend and I did last week, and be greeted warmly everywhere. One local friend says that if he gets a flat tire, at least three people he knows will stop to help. But in part because the country is so close-knit and stigma is deep, many people living with HIV remain hidden, unreached and uncounted.

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