From the very beginning, communities were in the vanguard of the AIDS response in Nepal. Still playing a vital role in the response to HIV in the country, communities are making good-quality services more accessible for people living with HIV and key populations and standing up to HIV-related stigma and discrimination.
“Nepal made antiretroviral medicines accessible to all people living with HIV as a result of advocacy efforts led by communities, human rights activists and other national stakeholders,” said Gopal Shrestha, a prominent community leader living with HIV.
Discrimination towards key populations is still deeply rooted in Nepalese society. “Finding people who need services is difficult due to a lack of trust. We work with those communities that fear coming out because of discrimination,” said Simran Sherchan, Operation Head of the Federation of Sexual and Gender Minorities in Nepal (FSGMN).
Although antiretroviral medicines are available to everyone living with HIV in Nepal, a survey conducted in 2018 reveals that more than 30% of transgender people avoid seeking health care because of fear of stigma and discrimination—something that FSGMN is determined to end.