August 10, 2010—Two amfAR-funded organizations providing HIV services to men who have sex with men (MSM) received the U.N.’s prestigious Red Ribbon Award on July 21 for their outstanding work in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS. The two groups, Colectivo SerGay de Aguascalientes of Mexico and the Penitentiary Initiative, based in Nikolaev, Ukraine, were honored at an awards ceremony in Vienna during the XVIII International AIDS Conference. (Click here to watch a video on the 2010 Red Ribbon winners, including both amfAR grantees.)
A support group for MSM prisoners established by Ukraine’s Penitentiary Initiative (Photo: The Penitentiary Initiative).
The Penitentiary Initiative, which received community awards from amfAR’s MSM Initiative in 2009 and 2010, was honored for its groundbreaking HIV prevention, treatment, and outreach work in Ukraine’s prisons. The group has used its MSM Initiative awards to provide HIV prevention and psychosocial support for MSM prisoners, who are regarded as outcasts, within the prison subculture and are particularly vulnerable to HIV. To change prison attitudes toward MSM and improve HIV prevention efforts, the project also provides training for prison staff, and has developed materials on MSM and HIV that may soon be adopted nationally.
Mexico’s Colectivo SerGay de Aguascalientes works to reduce stigma, discrimination, and homophobia and to raise awareness of HIV among MSM and other sexual minorities. It is using its 2010 MSM Initiative community award to engage peer educators to conduct outreach among MSM and transgender people, and to offer peer counseling, HIV testing, and other services. In addition, it has established an LGBT community center to provide a safe space for community members to socialize and receive counseling and other services.
The Red Ribbon Award, presented every two years at the International AIDS Conference, is a joint UNAIDS effort to recognize community-based organizations for their leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The 2010 winners—25 community groups from 17 countries—were selected from among 720 organizations in more than 100 countries that were nominated to receive this honor. To read more about the award winners, visit www.redribbonaward.org.