The Netherlands have launched the largest HIV / AIDS program worldwide aimed at gay men, drug users and sex workers and their partners. The program is run by seven organizations led by the Dutch AIDS Fund and will start in September. Besides the contribution of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, other sources contributed 11.7 million euros. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has released 35 million euros, which will give in 16 countries gay men, drug users and sex workers easier access to information, condoms, treatment with HIV drugs and care. It could mean a dramatic shift in reducing the number of HIV infections in these 16 countries.
The decision by the Dutch government to release money for the project is very important. It means a continuation of the ‘Dutch approach’ in the international fight against AIDS, with access to prevention and care, and central view on decriminalization of drug use, homosexuality and sex work. The only way to gay men, drug users and prostitutes to receive the care that is really needed. A good example of this care are integral needle exchange programs for injecting drug users. Many HIV infections are prevented this way. The Dutch approach is internationally recognized as very successful.
Vulnerable groups are 10 to 20 times more often infected with HIV than the general population. Only 8 percent have access to prevention, care, HIV treatment and support. In many countries there is legislation that access to care is difficult or [almost] impossible, such as laws that criminalize homosexuality or enabling sex workers who get severely persecuted. Provision of care for these vulnerable groups must go hand in hand with political pressure to change laws. The program will run in 16 countries: Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Botswana, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Nepal, Pakistan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brazil, Costa Rica and Ecuador.
There will be extra focus on gaps in existing projects. Thus, prevention programs on the “truck routes” in Africa often focus only on drivers. Sex workers are so far not reached by them. This means that there are still many infections taken place on these routes. The Dutch program is implemented by seven organizations: AIDS Fund / STI AIDS Netherlands, AIDS Foundation East-West, COC, Global Network of People living with HIV, Health Connections International, Mainline and the Schorer Institute. Along with 102 partner organizations in said 16 countries they will make the coming year 400,000 gay and bisexual men, transsexuals, sex workers and injecting drug users can be reached by teaching them about HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.
Open here the PDF: AidsFund_summary_keypopulations