Bridging the Gaps Programme Manager Martine de Schutter, who was among the deceased in flight MH17, had carefully planned Bridging the Gaps’ presence at the AIDS Conference 2014. She was most excited about the satellite meeting she had been preparing with so many programme partners: ‘Key populations in the driver’s seat’. Martine put a lot of energy and dedication in organising the event, which she wanted to be a great success. During the conference in Melbourne, all Bridging the Gaps partners and colleagues had a very sad and turbulent time after they heard about the tragic death of six conference attendees. Yet, we decided to proceed with the satellite meeting, in loving memory of Martine and Pim, and all the others we lost. The meeting indeed turned out to be a great success. On Thursday 24 July, at 7 AM, around 145 people gathered to learn about good practices from the Bridging the Gaps programme.

Three key populations, one programme

The diversity of presentations and good practices that were shared during the satellite meeting illustrate the diversity of the Bridging the Gaps programme. The presentations also demonstrate the added value of addressing three different key populations – sex workers, LGBT people, and people who use drugs – in one programme. The number of countries from which the speakers came is another indication of the versatility of Bridging the Gaps, namely Vietnam, Myanmar, Kenya, Indonesia, the USA, and the Netherlands. Even though the attendees live and work in diverse countries and belong to different communities of key populations, there was one overarching understanding during the satellite session: we can improve the health of key populations only if we respect their human rights. The presentations once again demonstrated that a concerted approach makes sense. Sex workers, LGBT people, and people who use drugs face similar challenges and often fight the same battles – there are many lesson to be learnt from each other. This will be the focus of the Bridging the Gaps programme during its final year, 2015.

For an overview of presentations that were given during the satellite meeting at the AIDS Conference 2014, click here.

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