The 15th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA)—which ended December 7—showcased HIV/AIDS funding concerns during the global financial crisis and, for the first time, emphasized the specific HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention needs of men who have sex with men (MSM), Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports.

According to the article, about 22 million people in Africa live with HIV, but most of the funding to treat and prevent the virus comes from foreign donors. Souleymane Mboup, the Sengalese researcher who presided over ICASA 2008, called for more research to brace for a possible reduction in foreign aid in the near future.

“These types of studies will help us define priorities that will help us…make proposals if we have to make reductions,” Mboup told AFP.

At the closing ceremony, Steave Nemande, MD, an MSM from Cameroon who spoke at the closing ceremony, praised the conference for allowing gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people to speak openly.

“That is proof that the conference really did face the facts,” Nemande said. “Gays in Africa are a reality.”