bay area reporter

New Oakland headquarters for Global Forum

By Cynthia Laird

February 25, 2010

The Global Forum on MSM HIV this week announced plans for a March 1 open house at its new Oakland headquarters.

The organization, also known as MSMGF, is a network of civil society groups, AIDS organizations, and advocates working for improved HIV programming for men who have sex with men worldwide.

The fund receives administrative and fiscal support from AIDS Project Los Angeles. It is headed by George Ayala, executive officer and a clinical psychologist. Ayala is openly gay.

"The MSMGF is the only advocacy organization focused specifically on the global HIV epidemic among men who have sex with men," Ayala said in a statement. "Oakland's sustained response to a devastating epidemic among MSM of color has given local service providers a depth of experience that is extremely valuable; we look forward to working with our local colleagues and partners abroad to ensure MSM everywhere have the services they need."

MSMGF has an annual budget of $1.7 million, according to communications associate Jack Beck.

"We receive support from both private and public sources," Beck said in an e-mail. "Most of our funding comes in the form of grants from foundations and governments."

Beck added that the fund does not currently receive any federal funding from the U.S.

He also said that MSMGF has been guided by an independent steering committee of HIV advocates from all over the world. Its operations are carried out by a secretariat that has been housed in different organizations affiliated with different steering committee members, rotating periodically.

In 2007, the secretariat rotated from AIDS Committee of Toronto to APLA, where Ayala was working as director of education. Ayala left APLA for a job in the Bay Area but the MSMGF steering committee asked him to remain as executive officer; the secretariat remained at APLA.

The open house is expected to feature Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) and will take place at 1:30 p.m. at 436 14th Street in downtown Oakland.

Matthew S. Bajko contributed to this report.