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.
The publication also complements the ICAAP11 conference theme: "Asia/Pacific reaching Triple Zero: Investing in Innovation",  by profiling innovative MSM and transgender community based organisations across the region.

Contributors highlight the urgent need to increase political commitment, and access to services, while removing legal barriers and addressing stigma and discrimination which hamper effective responses to HIV.

In the publication, Dr. Chris Beyrer from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health points out that arguably the most striking feature of HIV in the region in 2013 is the high HIV incidence and prevalence among MSM and TG women in virtually every Asia-Pacific state where surveillance has been done.

Midnight Poonkasetwattana
Executive Director of the Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM), Midnight Poonkasetwattana, responded, "The time has come for governments to fully commit to remove punitive measures that criminalise homosexual acts and introduce anti-discrimination legislation on the grounds of sexual identity, to put an end to the stigma that prevents some people from accessing testing and treatment."

"As we look beyond 2015, it is crucial that national level governments take a more active role in addressing HIV. This includes: incorporating HIV prevention and treatment into national health budgets and plans; providing citizens with universal access to treatments; and working with community organisations at all stages of planning and implementation of strategies to address HIV.."

Rob Lake, the Executive Director of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO), said: "This ICAAP conference comes during a watershed moment in HIV response. There is a lot of excitement about the possibility of completely eradicating HIV transmission - yet there is still much work that needs to be done. We hope that this publication highlights the range of issues that government leaders, donors and community collectively need to address to effectively scale-up prevention, testing, treatment and care for men who have sex with men and transgender people."

Download the Special ICAAP11 Edition of HIV Australia

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