Absolutely Ours : The importance of community-owned responses to HIV in India

“Communities are assisting State AIDS Control Societies to train police and health officials on their specific needs and concerns. It is not uncommon during police trainings for sari-clad hijras and MSM to lead sessions on why and how police services can be made more friendly and inclusive for the community. Media advocacy has yielded results, and instances of stories that accurately and respectfully portray sexuality and gender identity differences are penetrating into the homes and minds of the media consuming public. The richness and value of the results are evident on multiple levels: with the project implementors themselves; in the populations they target; and in society at large. The process of working on an HIV prevention project itself can increase community pride and self-esteem, helping them to see latent strengths and capacity they might have thought they didn’t have. And a community that loves itself, protects itself.”

This is an excerpt from an article by Jonathan Ripley, the former Manager for Advocacy and Policy, Pehchan. In this article, he discusses how MSM, transgender and hijra community members are registering themselves as legally recognised organisations, and why this growing sense of community ownership matters. Jonathan’s article also emphasises the complexity behind defining what a ‘community’ really means, and why Alliance India strives to be viewed as unnecessary by the communities it supports. You can read the entire article here.

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With support from the Global FundPehchan builds the capacity of 200 community-based organisations (CBOs) for men who have sex with men (MSM), transgenders and hijras in 17 states in India to be more effective partners in the government’s HIV prevention programme. By supporting the development of strong CBOs, Pehchan will address some of the capacity gaps that have often prevented CBOs from receiving government funding for much-needed HIV programming. Named Pehchan which in Hindi means ‘identity’, ‘recognition’ or ‘acknowledgement,’ this programme is implemented by India HIV/AIDS Alliance in consortium with Humsafar Trust, SAATHII, Sangama, and SIAAP and will reach 453,750 MSM, transgenders and hijras by 2015. It is the Global Fund’s largest single-country grant to date focused on the HIV response for vulnerable sexual minorities.

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