OUT LGBT Well-being is proud to announce that it’s received a two-year grant from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to boost vital HIV services for men who have sex with men (MSM) in three South African metros.
This historic grant is the first ever direct funding awarded by USAID to an MSM-focused and LGBTQ-run organisation in South Africa. The award will enable OUT’s Engage Men’s Health program to continue and enhance its provision of comprehensive, and stigma-free sexual health services for MSM in Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay, and Buffalo City.
“The U.S. Government, through USAID, is thrilled to deepen our partnership with OUT. Being locally-led, OUT offers comprehensive HIV services that are inclusive, stigma-free, and tailored to the needs of LGBTQI+ communities. Their initiatives uphold the principles of dignity, equality, and human rights for all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” states USAID Southern Africa Regional Mission Director, Leslie Marbury.
Launched in 2019, Engage Men’s Health was previously funded by USAID as a sub-award through the FHI 360 EpiC project, playing a crucial role in contributing to HIV epidemic control in South Africa.
OUT Executive Director, Dawie Nel, states, “This is a major milestone for OUT, which has its roots as a small LGBTQ+ community support group started in 1994. Over the last three years, we underwent a rigorous process to ensure that our organisational capacity, policies and processes are at the required standard to qualify for direct funding from the U.S. Government.”
Collaborating with the City of Johannesburg and the Gauteng and Eastern Cape Provincial Health Departments, OUT will increase demand, availability, and access to free HIV prevention, care, and treatment services for MSM through a combination of fixed site services and community building and outreach.
In its first year under the new grant, the Engage Men’s Health project will strive to reach 24,500 MSM in the three metros with prevention messaging, information, education and communication materials, and safe spaces for empowerment and health literacy. Of these individuals, OUT aims to test over 3,000 high-risk MSM and initiate those who are negative on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) while providing antiretroviral therapy (ART) for those who are diagnosed HIV positive. The project will also launch a new clinic and community centre in the Rosebank area of Johannesburg.
Dawie Nel expresses deep gratitude, stating, “We are thankful for the support of PEPFAR, USAID, and the American people, enabling our work to meet the goal of South Africa’s National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB, and STIs and to eliminate these as public health threats by 2030.”
OUT LGBT Well-being is a registered NPO that provides HIV and other health and empowerment services to gay, bisexual and MSM communities. It also advocates for LGBTQI+ equality and works to eradicate stigma, discrimination, and hate crimes.
For more information about Engage Men’s Health, its free services and how to access them, please visit www.engagemenshealth.org.za or call or WhatsApp 082 607 1686.