Key populations: policy development and partnerships the way forward
South Africa’s National Strategic Plan (2012-2016) highlights the need for policy development related to so-called ‘key populations’ which include men who have sex with men (MSM), sex workers and people who inject drugs, in order to ensure that our responses to the HIV pandemic are inclusive of these populations.“Effective policies can be translated into effective interventions for key populations through partnerships between the Department of Health and service-delivery organisations with the relevant expertise”, said Steve Letsike, the Deputy Chairperson of SANAC, speaking at a satellite session at the Durban Aids conference hosted by the Anova Health Institute. The satellite session focused attention on HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM), who are recognized as a key population in the fight against HIV in South Africa.
Letsike, who works for Anova’s Health4Men project, highlighted the importance of partnerships between Anova and several provincial departments of health to increase access to competent health care services by MSM. “MSM in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West provinces will soon be able to access sexual health services without bias or stigma. Such partnerships and collaborations are the way forward”, said Letsike. “At the same time, inclusion of local community organisations and grass-roots MSM networks are essential to ensuring that MSM utilize the health services available to them.”