Mar 25, 2016
12:30pm - 2:00pm    |    Wilf 5th Floor Conference Room, 139 MacDougal Street, New York, NY

Valid ID and RSVP required. RSVP here or email Anam Salem. Lunch will be provided.

About the Talk

Human rights experts have documented how laws criminalizing key populations (such as sex workers, people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, and transgender people) create barriers to accessing HIV response. However, quantifying the impact of human rights abuses on health has posed challenges. The assumptions and data used in epidemiological models and related health indicators do not incorporate the negative impact punitive laws and rights abuses can have on access to health services.

This study compared data on national laws that criminalize same-sex sexual behavior with reported national UNAIDS HIV indicators for men who have sex with men (MSM), to explore potential correlations. The study utilized legal mapping by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) and HIV data reported by United Nations (UN) member states to UNAIDS between 2005 and 2014. It examined key population size estimates as a percentage of national populations. It also compared distribution of key population size estimates with UN member states’ reported condom use, HIV testing coverage, and HIV prevalence among MSM. Statistical analysis found correlations between laws criminalizing same-sex sexual behavior and low performance on HIV indicators. The study found that countries that criminalize same-sex sexual behavior do indeed face challenges in identifying MSM populations and reaching them with HIV prevention services. At the same time, the research pointed up how the use of quantitative data may fail to measure and assess needs accurately when it does not take into account human rights conditions.

Without size estimates of key populations and data on how they are affected by HIV, it may be impossible to persuade health officials to prioritize and fund services to meet those populations’ specific needs. At the same time, mapping and counting can make criminalized populations visible in ways that place them at risk.

This talk will explore monitoring, accountability and human rights in global health governance, and ways that contests over forms of knowledge production link to contests between governments, global agencies, and affected communities.

About the Speaker

Sara L.M. Davis (known as Meg) is a visiting scholar with CHRGJ. Her research focuses on global health aid, measurement of impact of human rights on health, and health and human rights in Asia. She was the first senior human rights advisor at The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. At the Global Fund, she led the process of establishing minimum human rights standards for grant agreements in 140 countries that receive Global Fund support; launched a human rights complaints procedure at the Global Fund Office of the Inspector General; and published and implemented grant guidance on funding human rights programs as part of Global Fund HIV, TB, malaria and Health System Strengthening grants.

As a long-time human rights practitioner, Meg has worked with dozens of community-based organizations and networks in Asia and Africa on community-led human rights documentation, advocacy, strategic planning and organizational management. She was the China researcher at Human Rights Watch, where she authored four human rights reports, and then founded human rights group Asia Catalyst, where she is now a member of the board. She is also a member of the advisory committee for China Development Brief.

Meg earned her Ph.D. at University of Pennsylvania, and has continued active engagement in scholarship through research and visiting scholar positions at Yale University, UCLA, Columbia University, and Fordham Law School. She now consults for UNAIDS, the International Network of People Using Drugs (INPUD), Open Society Foundations, and African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR), among others. She is fluent in Chinese, and also speaks French, Thai, and Tai Lue. She has a blog,, and posts on Twitter @saralmdavis.






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