How can drug users get clean needles if they risk being arrested when they visit needle exchange facilities?
How can sex workers protect themselves if they are afraid of being beaten up, bribed or sexually harassed?
How can men having sex with men get tested on HIV if their medical specialists will treat them with disgust and prejudice?
The policies and laws that impede the human rights of LGBT, sex workers and people who use drugs have a direct role in their inability to access HIV prevention, treatment and support services. Such policies do not only create a direct threat to the lives of key populations seeking out information about HIV infection, but these policies support and encourage stigma and discrimination within health care settings so that people cannot get the care they need. Funding to prevent HIV infection is not geared towards those in greatest need. Overall, laws and policies that discriminate against key HIV-affected populations significantly undermine public health efforts to control HIV infection and health care costs.
Sex workers, drug users and LGBT people live among every population in the world. However, national governments often ignore their responsibility to ensure access to health for key populations. Bridging the Gaps addresses (legal) barriers to accessing HIV/STI prevention, treatment and care services for key populations.
We work in regions where human rights violations, social exclusion and poverty are rife among key populations. In these countries we will lobby to:
• Decriminalise drug use, sex work and homosexuality;
• Guarantee access to prevention and health care;
• Encourage constructive involvement of civil society in formulating and implementing policies.
We focus in a pragmatic matter on controversial issues and are ready to open up dialogue about issues such as gay rights, harm reduction for drug users or recognising sex work as work.