Asia Catalyst is grateful to everyone who attended our Spring event at Ethan Cohen New York this week! It was a night of stimulating discussion, sensational art, and delicious food. Asia Catalyst looks forward to continuing the discussion in the days ahead. (more…)
In November, my colleagues from the Jiaozhou Health and Counseling Center and I were invited to attend a conference titled “Women and HIV in the Context of Commercial Sex.” The China Red Ribbon Forum–a platform for government and civil society organizations to discuss HIV and rights issues–and several UN agencies hosted the conference. There, we met officers from UNAIDS, the United Nations Population Fund, the China AIDS Association, sex worker delegations from New Zealand and Vietnam, and staff from domestic organizations that focus on preventing HIV/AIDS for sex workers.
The first thing I learned from this seminar was the “Chatham House Principle ” which ensures that participants of the seminar were able to speak freely under guaranteed confidentiality. Under this relaxed and harmonious atmosphere, all participants, including us sex workers, could fully express themselves.
By Charmain Mohamed
Charmain Mohamed is Executive Director of Asia Catalyst.
Over the last eight years Asia Catalyst has grown in size and stature to become a leader in curriculum development and advocacy that furthers the right to health for marginalized groups in Asia. The transition has been a remarkable one, not least because it happened within the context of a global recession and a steady decline and re-focus of international HIV funding. Our measure of success however, is not a financial one, nor even one of organizational sustainability, but rather one of impact. Impact for the communities we work with, and impact on addressing some of the worst effects of punitive laws and regulations on HIV, and access to an adequate standard of health for all.
Eight years ago the global number of people dying because of AIDS was at its highest ever. That number has fallen by 35% in the last eight years, mainly because of an increase in access to treatment for people living with HIV. At this year’s AIDS 2014 conference in Melbourne, Australia, UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibe, remarked that, if similar progress continued and accelerated, we were “on track to end the epidemic by 2030.” However, with two thirds of people living with HIV still not accessing treatment, lack of vigilance now could see current progress eroded and targets being set back by a decade, if not more. Last year UNAIDS reported an estimated 2.1 million new infections and 1.5 million AIDS related deaths globally. Clearly there is more to be done.
This week at the International Aids Conference (IAC), Asia Catalyst presents preliminary findings from a joint research project on transgender sex workers conducted with two Chinese organizations, Beijing Zuoyou Information Center and Shanghai CSW & MSM Center.
Shanghai CSW (commercial sex worker) & MSM (men who have sex with men) Center (SCMC) was established in 2004 to focus on the rights and wellbeing of vulnerable sexual minorities in China. SCMC works to improve sexual minorities’ access to medical and legal services, and to improve the environment surrounding these vulnerable groups. As the secretariat of a sex workers network platform, SCMC also works in coalition with academic institutions, mass media, and other groups to improve public understanding of the discrimination faced by sex workers.