News, September 2005: FIAR recently helped Navakiran Plus to develop a unit to care for TB patients. It will now provide intensive care to 3 people at a time. The total cost was around 100,000 Nepali Rupees and 70% was FIAR support. We hope to provide additional support in the future.
FIAR has been working with the Blue Diamond Society of Kathmandu, Nepal and its director Sunil Babu Pant. FIAR has so far supplied over 45,000 condoms to the program along with 3,500 sachets of water-based lubricant. Mr. Pant, working with Family Health International (FHI), USAID, UNAIDS and other organizations is developing the distribution and safer sex education program Because of this program, FHI now has a plank in its proposed multi-million dollar safer sex/STD campaign for Nepal that includes men who have sex with men (MSM). Until the FIAR-Blue Diamond project was developed, the issue of MSM in Nepal had been completely ignored.
FIAR is also working on developing a proposal to work with local community activists (including Nepal Plus, Maiti Nepal and Navakiran+ as well as BDS) to work on the treatment side of the prevention+treatment equation. A visit in September of 2003 was extremely productive. Mr. Carter met with community representatives, Ayurvedic physicians ("vaidyas"), medical doctors and representatives of the Nepal Ministry of Health. The idea presented was to conduct a clinical study to evaluate the potential of Ayurvedic medicine to slow HIV disease progression. A good and collaborative atmosphere was identified. Assuring local intellectual property rights will be a key to assure that commercial value, should there be any, will accrue to local needs and people. In order to conduct such a study, diagnostic equipment will be necessary which we will endeavor to secure. Assuring patient safety and rights means we will utilize only the highest level of protections and informed consent (or as Dr. Koirala put it: "understood consent.") Finally, for patient safety, the preliminary study will not include people with low CD4 counts (below around 250). Instead, individuals who seek to enroll and are determined to have a low CD4 count will be offered free antiretroviral therapy. A complete report on this meeting will be available shortly.
Several reports from the BDS project have been issued including:Conference Report;
Outreach Training Report of May 2002; and
The First Nepal National Consultation Meeting for Male Reproductive And Sexual Health.
Mr. Pant has been the instrumental figure in executing the condom distribution program in Kathmandu. It was his efforts in reaching out to the MSM community in parks in Kathmandu that was the driving force behind the program. He has convened workshops to train outreach workers, including transvestite and other groups that have been discriminated against within Nepal. His work has also brought Blue Diamond into contact with UNAIDS, USAID and Family Health International (FHI). FHI now has included a plant to address the needs of MSM.
A little more about Blue Diamond Society from their Report on The First Consultation Meeting on Male Reproductive And Sexual Health, co-sponsored by UNAIDS/Nepal....
The Blue Diamond Society (BDS) was founded in 2001, following a five-month consultation, in an effort to address the needs of men who have sex with men (MSM). Its initial efforts focused on distribution of condoms and lubricants to MSM living in Kathmandu. BDS has developed services in Kathmandu, including outreach education, a social support group and general support to individuals. At present, BDS conducts the only STD and AIDS/HIV prevention programme in Nepal that targets the MSM community.
In order to discuss these issues and develop a range of recommendations for action that deal with the range of male sexual behaviours and the consequent risks for STD/HIV transmission amongst males, BDS hosted a special consultation meeting from 11-13 January, 2002. Participants went through a 3-day process of identifying issues, clarifying needs, and generating recommendations for action.
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