Thursday 18 December 2014

What AFAO did in 2014

Check out our photo story on AFAO's activities in 2014.


We’re in Australia. It was what’s known as the silly season. We went to the beach.

Ok, ok, we were working too, but nothing worth photographing.

Thursday 11 December 2014

Joint launch highlights HIV issues for migrant and mobile populations

Speakers at the launch.
Mobile and migrant populations are an increasingly prominent proportion of Australia’s HIV epidemic in 2014. 

Surveillance data indicates that people born overseas in 2013 have HIV at double the rate of those who are Australian born. The data also shows an increase of HIV diagnoses acquired overseas among Australian born people over the past decade.

Against this background, two documents were launched in Melbourne on 2 December that make important contributions to the response to HIV for people who travel to or from high prevalence countries: The HIV and Mobility in Australia: Road Map forAction, developed by the Western Australian Centre for Health Promotion Research (WACHPR), the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) and the Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Applied Research and Evaluation Network (SiREN); and AFAO’s HIV and Stigma: A Guide for Religious Leaders.  

Thursday 20 November 2014

Rights, resilience, and solidarity: Transgender Day of Remembrance

The International Transgender Day of Remembrance on 20 November offers all a chance to reflect on those who have been discriminated against, those who have had violence perpetrated against them, and the need for solidarity to stand up against violence in our region, particularly violence perpetrated against transgender people.

Due to stigma, transgender women especially are particularly vulnerable to HIV, so AFAO has over the years tried to ensure that transgender issues are addressed in our programs, policy work and resources.

To celebrate TDoR, this post shares pictures and links to articles, mainly from past editions of HIV Australia, which analyse the issues and showcase the work AFAO and our partners have been doing in Australia and the Asia Pacific region to support the health and human rights of transgender people.

Thursday 16 October 2014

Blog Action Day: Inequality and HIV

Indraveer Chatterjee
The global HIV epidemic is characterised by inequality. To name just two dimensions of this: gender inequality fuels the spread of HIV; and unequal access to treatment results in unnecessarily high rates of illness and death in many countries. 

To mark the Blog Action Day theme of inequality this year, we invited Indraveer Chatterjee, Principal Solicitor at the HIV/AIDS Legal Centre (HALC) to write about how inequality within the epidemic is entrenched by a lack of support for human rights.

This article is based on a presentation Indraveer gave at an AIDS 2014 feedback session at ACON in September.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Beyond Blame – Challenging HIV Criminalisation

Victorian Health Minister David Davis welcomes delegates to
the Beyond Blame preconference.
A promise to review HIV-related criminal laws in Victoria and reporting of amendments to overseas laws set an optimistic tone at the Beyond Blame: Challenging HIV Criminalisation pre-conference at AIDS 2014 - the largest criminalisation preconference held-to-date.

Held in Melbourne on 20 July, it included participants from a diverse array of countries, including the US, Canada, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Sweden, the UK and Australia.

Monday 13 October 2014

Asia Pacific Community Experiences at AIDS 2014 - VIDEO

AFAO International works closely with partners across Asia and the Pacific with three ongoing projects being undertaken in collaboration with Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM), Asia Pacific Council of AIDS Service Organisations (APCASO) and Papua New Guinea network of transgender people and men of diverse sexualities – Kapul Champions.

As part of this work 50 Asia Pacific community representatives were supported to travel to Melbourne for the AIDS 2014 Conference under an Australian Government Initiative called the Australian Award Fellowships Program.

Friday 10 October 2014

HIV and Mobile Populations: exploring the complexities

A montage that captures the HIV and mobility issues.
It's been clear for some time that the HIV epidemic in Western Australia is different to that in the rest of Australia, with heterosexuals and people from high prevalence countries accounting for a higher proportion of new diagnoses (around 50%) than in other states and territories where the majority of diagnoses (67%) are among gay men.

Research and advocacy on the issue has been bubbling along for a while now, and in July, capitalising on the momentum of the AIDS 2014 conference in Melbourne, key players in WA's HIV response hosted a one day seminar on 29 July - HIV and Mobile Populations - to explore the complexities of the local epidemic and exchange information and ideas about the way forward.

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Invoking faith to fight HIV stigma

Looking back, it’s easy to see that Stepping Up in Faith: the AIDS 2014 Interfaith Pre-Conference (held on 18–19 July) previewed many of the significant topics discussed at AIDS 2014, in particular, stigma, criminalisation, and the need for inclusion and celebration of sexual orientation and gender diversity in faith-based responses to HIV.

For me, the stand out presenters at the pre-conference were those who stressed that faith communities must not only be inclusive and supportive of diversity, but should be advocates for the rights of all vulnerable populations – including  gay men, transgender people and sex workers.

Tuesday 9 September 2014

What an AFAO member learned Under the Baobab Tree

The ‘Under the Baobab Tree’ African Diaspora networking zone in the Global Village at AIDS 2014 provided an opportunity for people from the African and Black Diaspora and their colleagues to network, share knowledge, and relax.

The zone was hosted by the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health (CEH) in partnership with the African and Black Diaspora Global Network on HIV and AIDS (ABDGN), and AFAO, with the guidance and support of AFAO’s African Reference Group.

Beth Hodge, Community Development and Advocacy Officer at the WA AIDS Council (WAAC), is a member of the African Reference group and was one of two WA representatives on the African Diaspora Networking Zone working group. We asked Beth to share her thoughts about her experiences under the baobab.

Monday 18 August 2014

National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Roundtable

The implementation of The 2012 National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Strategy was the subject of wide-ranging discussions at the 2nd National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Roundtable last week.

Hosted by the LGBTI Health Alliance in Sydney on 12-13 August, the gathering was attended by participants from diverse backgrounds, including carers, health professionals, LGBTI and HIV organisations, as well as high-ranking officials from the Commonwealth Department of Social Services.

Monday 21 July 2014

Community representatives welcome delegates to the G'day Networking Zone at AIDS 2014

On July 21, representatives from Australia's peak HIV community organisations welcomed delegates to the AFAO G'day! Welcome To Australia Networking Zone at AIDS 2014.

The zone celebrates and showcases the unique role that community input has played in defining Australia's response to HIV over 30 years, through a jam packed program of speakers, digital art galleries and exciting performances.

Thursday 17 July 2014

Lyle Chan - an AIDS activist's thoughts on music, history, and creativity

Lyle Chan in the early 90s.
Photo: Pattarapa Tsunpruck.
Reproduced from the National
AIDS Bulletin
Today, Lyle Chan is an acclaimed composer whose works have been commissioned and performed by major artists including soprano Taryn Fiebig, pianist Simon Tedeschi, Sydney Philharmonia Choir and the even former Foreign Minister Bob Carr.

But in the early nineties Lyle was a core member of ACT UP and other AIDS organisations. He and fellow activists couriered AIDS treatments from the US that were unavailable in Australia, fiercely lobbying the Australian government to approve experimental treatments more quickly.

Lyle's composition, String Quartet: An AIDS Activist's Memoir, was sketched in the crisis years 1991-1996, but only completed 20 years later.

In the lead up to several performances of the complete work, associated with the AIDS 2014 conference, Lyle spoke to Jill Sergeant, AFAO Project Officer, about the memoir, activism, and the value of music.

Friday 11 July 2014

Tributes to Vivienne Munro

Vivienne Munro (right) in a 1994/5 ACON poster.
Vivienne Munro was a pioneer of Australia's early HIV response, much loved and admired for her contribution to Australia's community response and support for HIV-positive women. Vivienne passed away in May 2014. 

Below, some of Vivienne's colleagues and friends pay tribute to her life and work.

Friday 4 July 2014

People living with HIV are … celebrating their diversity in the Global Village at AIDS 2014

Suzette Moses-Burton, Executive Director at the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), invites you to participate.

GNP+ is hosting the people living with HIV (PLHIV) Networking Zone at the AIDS 2014 Global Village, which will be home of the “People living with HIV are…” campaign. This campaign celebrates the diversity of people living with HIV.

We will be asking people to complete the sentence with a word or phrase of their choice. For example, “People living with HIV are … brilliant, campaigning for our rights, mums, doctors, decision makers, not criminals …” The possibilities are endless!

Whether you are living with HIV or know someone who is, we are calling on everyone at the conference, and members of the public passing through the Global Village, to stop by the PLHIV Networking Zone, and add their statement to the campaign, whether it is light-hearted or carries a serious message.

Thursday 26 June 2014

Under the Baobab Tree: African Diaspora Networking Zone #AIDS2014

Also known as 'The Tree of Life', the Baobab tree is found in 32 countries across Africa as well as in Australia and is an enduring symbol of positivity and growth, thriving in conditions where little can survive.

The African diaspora is even more widespread, as people of recent and remote African descent have settled in every region of the globe to create vibrant communities in the face of individual and collective challenges – including HIV/AIDS, which disproportionately affects Black and African diaspora populations.

This year’s African networking zone is being organised by the Multicultural Health and Support Service (MHSS) in collaboration with the African Black Diaspora Global Networkon HIV/AIDS (ABDGN) and AFAO’s African Reference Group.

To find out more about the zone, AFAO spoke to the ABDGN’s Kwaku Adomako.

Tuesday 24 June 2014

The Indigenous presence at AIDS 2014

In the lead up to the international HIV/AIDS conference in Melbourne in July (AIDS 2014) AFAO is running a series of posts highlighting activities related to the conference and exploring some of the issues that will be discussed there.

Kicking off our series, Michael Costello-Czok, Executive Officer of the Anwernekenhe National HIV Alliance (ANA), spoke to AFAO about how Indigenous people from HIV organisations around the world will be spending their time in Australia this July.

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Welcome to James and Chris

Chris (left) and James (right) kick back with Vaness Silpakhan,
Admin Assistant at AFAO's Bangkok office.
AFAO International Program is pleased to welcome two new members to our team in the Bangkok Office - James Malar and Chris Ward.

Both James and Chris started with the program in early April, and have been working closely with the AFAO programs and partners.

Friday 4 April 2014

How do rising health care costs affect you?

"Reason for delay in accessing healthcare" -
Source: CHF's Health Cost Survey data 
With the cost of health care set to be a central issue in the upcoming federal budget, Federal Minister for Health, the Hon Peter Dutton, has called for national debate on making our health system more sustainable.

A Senate committee has been tasked with investigating the cost of out-of-pocket expenses for consumers of health care in Australia. The Consumer Health Forum (CHF) is urging consumers of health services to play a central role in this discussion.

Thursday 13 March 2014

What's faith got to do with it?

Lina Ayoubi, from the Islamic Council of Victoria, was one of the
speakers at a recent Melbourne forum for religious leaders.
Photo: Dan Walls, courtesy of the Multicultural Health
and Support Service (MHSS).  
For people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, quite a lot.

Hand in Hand, a forum on HIV for religious leaders in Melbourne on 11 March heard that for many people with HIV from CALD communities, spiritual faith is central to their lives, but the stigma associated with HIV, and silence from church, mosque and temple, can lead to isolation and distress.  

Speakers representing several peak religious bodies in Victoria expressed concern about this isolation and stigmatisation, and discussed how the core principles of their faiths could – and should – inform both care and support for people with HIV, and community-based HIV prevention and awareness programs.

Over forty people attended the forum, which addressed the role of spiritual and community leaders in preventing HIV transmission in migrant and refugee communities. Hand in Hand was organised by the Multicultural Health and Support Service (MHSS), a program of the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health in Victoria. It was the third in a series of cross-sectoral Multicultural Sexual Health Network (MHSN) forums on BBV/STI prevention issues for CALD communities.

Wednesday 5 March 2014

Are Young Gay Men really so different?

On Thursday 20th February AFAO hosted an after hours session at the Social Research Conference on HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Related Diseases. Chaired by AFAO’s Sally Cameron, the session provided a venue for the consideration of the specific HIV health promotion needs of young gay men.

Friday 28 February 2014

Zero discrimination: stigma and HIV

Zero Discrimination Day on Saturday, 1 March, is an opportunity to challenge the stigma that is associated with HIV, and with marginalised groups who are disproportionately affected by HIV, such as gay men, injecting drug users, and sex workers.

This UNAIDS campaign seeks to ‘celebrate everyone’s right to live a full and productive life with dignity—no matter what they look like, where they come from or whom they love.’

To mark Zero Discrimination Day, AFAO Policy Analysts Jill Sergeant and Michael Frommer report back on a workshop on HIV, stigma and research priorities at the Centre for Social Research in Health Promises and Limitations conference, held at the University of NSW, 20-21 February.

Friday 17 January 2014

Memorial Notice: In loving memory of our friend and human rights warrior Andrew Paul Hunter

Vale Andrew Paul Hunter
 22/01/1968 - 26/12/2014
We are still so deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and colleague Andrew Hunter who died suddenly in Bangkok on Boxing Day. 

Andrew had devoted his entire adult life to social justice for maligned and marginalised communities particularly that of sex workers and people living with HIV. His passing has not just left a hole in our hearts but has also left a giant hole in the sex worker rights movement.  

We will miss his leadership and seemingly unstoppable energy in advancing the rights of sex workers and other marginalised communities that he represented so admirably and selflessly. Known by some as the gentle mentor, Andrew was the current President of the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP), founding co-ordinator of the Scarlet Alliance and a founding member of the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW).