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Universal access? Not without rights! Achievements of Bridging the Gaps Health and Rights for Key Populations

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Armsterdam: Bridging the Gaps Aids Fonds, 2013

The right to lead a healthy and fulfilling life is universal, but not accessible for all. Sex workers, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, and people who use drugs (PUD) are often amongst the poorest in society. They are stigmatised, socially excluded, and limited in their access to health care. As a result, they are disproportionally affected by HIV and AIDS. The Dutch government has a long track record in addressing the rights of marginalised groups regarding sexual and reproductive health. In times when opposition against these rights is substantial, and in some parts of the world even growing, the need to protect these rights becomes increasingly crucial. The Dutch government recognises that men who have sex with men (MSM), people who use drugs, and sex workers are heavily affected by the AIDS epidemic, causing major negative health effects in many countries. In 2010, Dutch Member of Parliament Hachchi (D66) submitted a motion requesting the government to continue the unique Dutch approach of focusing on vulnerable groups in its HIV/AIDS policy. This motion was widely supported in Parliament1. The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to this request by creating the Key Populations Fund, and reserved 35 million euros in its budget, to support five non-governmental organisations (NGOs) cooperating on empowering marginalised groups, as part of the HIV/AIDS response, through the Bridging the Gaps programme.