Tuesday 24 December 2013

The M-FORCE : Media, HIV and Young people

'We would like to invest in young people by increasing their capacity, so the approach should be situated  in their dynamism. 

'Developing skills in interpreting and using data, content development, media and advocacy in a fun and participatory ways is needed' - Setia Perdana, Media coordinator of GWL-INA.

On 14 -15 December 2013, 15 young gay, waria (transgender) and other MSM gathered in Jakarta for a two day workshop called 'M-FORCE, the Media for Change'.

The purpose of this workshop was to develop capacity and skills on media, HIV and human rights for the gay, waria and other MSM community in Jakarta.

Setia Perdana reports on the workshop for AFAO.

Friday 6 December 2013

AFAO's ICAAP11 highlights

One of many discussions at the AFAO booth.
More pix at afao.smugmug.com
AFAO representatives from our International Program and Sydney office joined the recent International Congress on AIDS in the Asia Pacific (ICAAP11) in Bangkok.

AFAO worked with our key partners Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM) and Asia Pacific Network of AIDS Service Organisations (APCASO) to jointly present a number of sessions, and also supported the participation of our partner in Papua New Guinea, Kapul Champions.

Thursday 5 December 2013

The right to health crucial to HIV advocacy

Michael Kirby and Anand Grover.
On the final day of the 11th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, the importance of human rights in the HIV response was highlighted in a session hosted by the Asia Pacific Council on AIDS Service Organisations (APCASO).

The Honorable Michael Kirby opened the session arguing the need for improved human rights protections for all vulnerable groups, including prisoners, migrants and refugees, which he drew from the 2012 Global Commission on HIV and the Law Report.

Thursday 21 November 2013

FOREPLAY - The final push towards three zeros

A series of community events was held across two days in the lead up to ICAAP11, to allow community delegates to come together and network, and to be discuss key issues related to HIV and key populations in Asia and the Pacific.

The first of these events was FOREPLAY, a one day community pre-conference hosted by APCOM on 17 November.

What's the next step for HIV testing services?

After moving at glacial pace for years, HIV rapid testing is now being ‘rolled out’ in different forms around the country. Although this will make testing more accessible and convenient, there has not been much attention paid to the experience of the users of testing services, and how services might change their models and their design to enhance the user experience.

To help explore this question, AFAO teamed up with Sydney and South Western Sydney Local Health District to commission a research project using innovative methods that focused on the ‘user’. 

Monday 18 November 2013

New publication puts focus on HIV in Asia and the Pacific

18 November 2013, Bangkok, Thailand - On the eve of this year's International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP11) - the largest HIV conference in the region -  two leading community HIV organisations, the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and the Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM) , have released a special edition of AFAO's flagship publication, HIV Australia, discussing HIV in Asia and the Pacific.

The special edition aims to create discussion around the significant human rights, HIV and funding gap issues for men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people. These issues include:

  • Across the Asia Pacific region, rates of new infection have decreased among the general population but continue to grow among MSM and transgender populations.
  • Young MSM are at particular risk. One study from Bangkok showed that over a 5-year period, 30% of the young men involved in the study became infected with HIV.
  • Globally, transgender women are up to 48 times more likely to have HIV than other adults in the same population. Rates of HIV among transgender groups were: 43% in India, 26% in Indonesia and 12.5% in Thailand.

UNAIDS leadership forum at ICAAP – achieving zero new infections, zero AIDS deaths and zero discrimination in Asia and the Pacific

Panel at the UNAIDS Leadership Forum.
In the lead up to the 11th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP11) -  the largest HIV conference in the region - The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNAIDS are hosting a two-day Leadership Forum entitled "Asia Pacific Getting to Three Zeros"  to discuss achieving zero new infections, zero AIDS deaths, and zero discrimination in the region.

The two day forum, held 18-19 November in Bangkok, is one of many events happening during the ICAAP conference that is putting the international spotlight on responses to HIV in Asia and the Pacific. Around one hundred senior government officials, policy makers and civil society leaders were in attendance on the first day of the forum.

Thursday 14 November 2013

Rapid test not always so rapid...from consumer's perspective

An interesting presentation by Stephen Davies from North Shore Sexual Health Service (Sydney) at the recent Australasian HIV & AIDS Conference showed that gay men preferred receiving HIV test results from a conventional blood test the following business day over a rapid point-of-care test.

Since December 2012, NSSHS has offered the option of receiving conventional HIV test results (if negative) by SMS on the following business day after their test. Gay men were able to choose between: 1) having a point-of-care test; 2) receiving their results by phone 5 to 7 days later; or 3) receiving results by SMS.

Overall, 94% of those who opted for SMS results were satisfied with this method. Of the 48 men who had previously had a point-of-care test, 35 elected a result by SMS. Feedback via clinicians indicated that men perceived conventional pathology as more reliable than rapid testing. A longer visit time also undermined the popularity of the rapid point-of-care test.

View abstract

Tuesday 22 October 2013

AFAO Advocacy Hub: the Asia Pacific HIV response

L-R: Janelle Fawkes, Chris Connelly, Omar Syarif, and
Ele Morrison. 
Each day at the Australasian HIV/AIDS conference in Darwin, AFAO is hosting a Community and Advocacy Hub. Hub activities include a mini-film festival, panel discussions and open mic sessions.

Today at the AFAO Hub, there was a wide-ranging discussion from AIVL, APN+, AFAO and Scarlet Alliance about the need for longer term funding to sustain community based responses in Asia and the Pacific.

Omar Syarif from APN+ highlighted need to scale up access to treatment, address legal barriers, and trade agreements.

Ele Morrison from AIVL talked about need to support drug users to advocate for themselves.

Janelle Fawkes from Scarlet Alliance highlighted the need to fund over long term the development of viable sex worker organisations.

Chris Connelly from AFAO's international program, discussed how AFAO has supported the development of MSM and TG community based organisations, with Kapul Champions in PNG being the most recent successful example.

Rob Lake, AFAO Executive Director, commented that Australia has a great interest in ensuring that international trade agreements, including the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, do not create barriers to accessing life saving treatments across the region.

More info about the Hub

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Blog Action Day: Human rights, HIV, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Blog Action Day is an annual day of action for bloggers around the world to post stories about an important social or environmental issue. This year the topic is human rights; an issue that is inextricably linked to HIV.

AFAO decided to participate in Blog Action Day for the first time by interviewing James Ward, an Indigenous health researcher with more than 15 years’ experience in sexual health and HIV. He is a descendent of the Pitjantjatjara and Nurrunga clans of central and South Australia.

The Office of theUnited Nations High Commissioner for human rights states that:
"Human rights are inextricably linked with the spread and impact of HIV/AIDS on individuals and communities around the world. A lack of respect for human rights fuels the spread and exacerbates the impact of the disease, while at the same time HIV/AIDS undermines progress in the realisation of human rights."
How would you say that this connection plays out for Indigenous people generally, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in particular?

It’s an important point linking human rights to HIV vulnerability and it’s often off the agenda.
Many Indigenous people struggle with basic human rights, including the lack of recognition in their own countries. Others have problems with recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights – basic human rights, including the right to be taught traditional language and practice customs and culture.

Monday 14 October 2013

Best practice: Community Advocacy Initiative in Laos (CAI)

CAI Phase I advocacy workshops with Lao
CBO partners
The work of Community Advocacy Initiative (CAI) in Lao has been featured in the recently released 'Global AIDS Response Progress Country Report, Lao PDR, 2012', as one of five best practice examples to illustrate contributions to the national HIV response.

CAI, a capacity building project of AFAO and APCASO (Asia Pacific Coalition of AIDS Service Organisations) was implemented in Indonesia, Cambodia, China, Lao and Vietnam from 2009 - 2012.

Tuesday 20 August 2013

MACBBVS reports to stakeholders

The Ministerial Advisory Committee on Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections (MACBBVS) has released a report from its meeting in Canberra on 2 August. MACBBVS is the Australian Government's key advisory body on the national HIV response.

Matters discussed included the update of the National Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections (BBV and STI) Strategies, viral hepatitis and liver cancer, the International AIDS Society Conference 2014, and the proposed National Health and Physical Education Curriculum.

Download the report

Friday 2 August 2013

Cameroon's HIV response stifled following murder of leading HIV activist

On 15 July, renowned HIV and LGBTI activist, Eric Ohena Lembembe, was found dead in his home in Yaoundé,  Cameroon. He had been brutally tortured and then beaten to death in an attack believed to be politically motivated

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Join us for a day of action on disability inclusive development

Today, 17 July 2013, is a Day of Action to campaign for the appointment of an Ambassador for Disability-Inclusive Development within the Australian Government's overseas aid program, AusAID.

On this day, the Australian Disability and Development Consortium and a number of other organisations including AFAO, are asking Parliamentarians to speak up for Disability Inclusive Development (DID) and therefore be able to say ‘we DID it’.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Creating LGBTI friendly Aged Care services

Sujay Kentlyn, Conference Co-Chair and Project Officer at
Outrageous Living discusses capacity building. 
The LGBTI Aged Care Forum held last Thursday and Friday in Sydney, was a diverse gathering of LGBTI organisations and leaders - including the ex-Uniting Church Minister Dorothy McRae-McMahon, aged care service providers and researchers.

Wednesday 29 May 2013

eHealth – trials without tribulations

The 2nd Annual PCEHR Conference: The Journey Towards National eHealth Adoption, held in Sydney on 27 May, highlighted some interesting findings that demonstrated how keen many people with HIV have been to register for their own eHealth record.

According to the latest information from the government, there are now 155,000 registered users of the eHealth record. There has been a significant rise in registrations since assisted registration began earlier this year. Assisted registration enables healthcare organisations to help their patients with the process of signing up for an eHealth record.

Thursday 9 May 2013

Leading gay advocate talks Human Rights and HIV

Australia has been very fortunate to have visit our shores one of the world’s leading human rights advocates, South African Justice Edwin Cameron. Edwin Cameron is of course well-known to many in the HIV sector, due to his coming-out publicly as HIV-positive. He is the only public official across the continent of Africa to have disclosed his positive status (more on his interesting reflections on that later in this post).

Monday 6 May 2013

Protest against funding cuts to Welfare Rights Centre

Cutting the cake, but no celebration on Welfare Rights' 30th birthday
In April, the NSW State Government sent shock-waves through the community sector when it announced that it was stripping community advocacy organsiation, Welfare Rights Centre, of all its State Government funding.

The decision will see $404,000 withdrawn from the organisation, representing 40% of its total funding.

Monday 29 April 2013

Introducing Chris Connelly – the new Manager for AFAO International

Chris has just joined the International team at our Bangkok office.

He was recently visiting the Sydney office and we thought AFAO's friends and partners might like to know a bit more about him, so we asked him a few questions about how he came to be working for AFAO and what the International team is up to this year.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Call for reform of anti-homosexuality laws across the Commonwealth

There has been renewed debate recently about the need to reform laws that criminalise homosexuality across the Commonwealth, driven by the signing by the Queen of the Commonwealth Charter in London last week.

In the UK's House of Lords on 13 March, there was an extensive discussion about the barriers that these laws present to responding to HIV, not to mention the denial of human rights generally as a result of these laws.

Thursday 14 March 2013

Reflections about Anthony Smith

Many people have been saddened by the recent death of our colleague and friend, Professor Anthony Smith. Anthony was widely known both in Australia and internationally for his work as an outstanding researcher, and also for his passion as an HIV activist
spanning some 25 years.

Dino Hodge and Terry McClafferty were colleagues of Anthony Smith during his time on the Northern Territory AIDS Council (NTAC) Board during the late 1980 and early 1990s.  Here they reflect on Anthony's life, and the lasting contributions he has made to Australia's response to HIV.

Dino Hodge was on the board of NTAC between 1989-1992. As a fellow Board Member, including in his capacity as a member of The NTAC Council Law and Policy Working Group, he worked closely alongside Anthony Smith.  Dino recalls:

Thursday 7 March 2013

Addressing human rights for orphans affected by HIV in Nepal

Children at the Punarbul Plus school.
Volunteer Rachel Tyne brings you this update on Punarbal Plus, a School in Nepal that provides educational opportunities and a supportive environment for HIV-positive and affected children, who are unable to access mainstream schooling due to stigma and discrimination. AFAO's small grants program funding supported core operational costs for the program from May 2008 until 2012.