Introducing the LINKAGES Blog: Making Services Meaningful for Key Populations

Denis Nzokia, Religious Relations Assistant at LGBT group GALCK

Photo Credit: © Nell Freeman for the Alliance. Subject: Denis Nzokia, Religious Relations Assistant at the LGBT group GALCK. He is one of Kenya’s few openly gay activists.

Written by Kevin Osborne, Project Director of LINKAGES

With this post, I am excited to launch the official blog of the LINKAGES project! Linkages Across the Continuum of Services for Key Populations Affected by HIV (LINKAGES) is a five-year project funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the U.S. Agency for International Development and led by FHI 360 in partnership with IntraHealth International, Pact, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The project is dedicated to reducing HIV transmission and improving enrollment and retention in treatment and care among key populations (KPs) — sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender people, and people who inject drugs — and their sex partners. To support our commitment to active engagement with KP stakeholders, we have purposefully constituted the LINKAGES Advisory Board (LAB) to provide strategic guidance to the project. The LAB, which includes a balance of representatives from both global key population constituency-led networks and technical bodies, provides a richness in the breadth and diversity in working with a range of key populations. You can see the full list of LAB members here.

LINKAGES  — which has been in operation for less than a year — is already currently active in a number of countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The project’s activities include, but aren’t limited to, supporting the delivery of KP-friendly services through drop-in centers, supporting government partners to develop and roll out KP-specific policies and strategies, conducting research on gender-based violence perpetrated against key populations, working with KP peer educators, building the capacity of local KP-led organizations, and tapping into the power of internet-based technology to reach KPs with HIV-related information and referrals. It’s clear that LINKAGES with its deliberate focus on sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender people, and people who inject drugs is doing the right thing at the right time!

As these programs and operations gain traction, we look forward to sharing stories and lessons from our on-the-ground experience. We also hope to hear and learn from others working in HIV prevention, care, and treatment for KPs. Through this blog, we will highlight evidence-informed and rights-based HIV programming for KPs and well as relevant research and resources. We will invite guest bloggers from around the world to share their experience working to promote, protect, and secure the health and human rights of KPs. We hope that this blog will serve as a platform for networking, knowledge exchange, and thought-provoking dialogue among members of KP communities, advocates, program implementers, scientists, and others working with KP groups.

Over the next five years, LINKAGES will play its part to ensure that sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender people, and people who inject drugs receive the high-quality, stigma-free rights orientated HIV prevention, care, and treatment services they need and deserve. For the link between HIV and human rights is inextricable. We hope that you will contribute to this work by sharing your perspectives, lessons learned, and stories with us. If you wish to guest blog on Making Services Meaningful for Key Populations, please let us know by writing to Nicole Ippoliti (nippoliti@fhi360.org). There are several other ways to stay connected to LINKAGES. You can follow the project on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to our newsletter and blog. Together, we can advance the work of supporting key populations.

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