What civil society-led responses to HIV and COVID-19 in Asia and the Pacific can teach us – world


COVID-19 continues to threaten progress in the HIV response and has brought inequalities to the fore, but civil society and community-based organizations in Asia and the Pacific have responded quickly to the pandemic. From the outset, networks of people living with HIV and key populations responded to the global health crisis with innovative action plans.

A side event organized on the sidelines of the United Nations High Level Meeting on AIDS showcased best practices in community responses to COVID-19 and HIV prevention in Asia and the Pacific.

It was noted that since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, key population networks have rapidly mobilized volunteers and partners to assist those affected by COVID-19, ensured the continuity of HIV services and found support. new ways to adapt to the new normal with online interventions.

For example, the Asia-Pacific Network of Sex Workers responded to the pandemic by modifying its existing programs to meet the urgent needs of the sex worker community, for example by reallocating funds to subsidize transportation costs for women sex workers. sex living with HIV to ensure their access to HIV treatment services.

Other regional networks, such as the Asia Pacific Transgender Network, the Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV and Youth LEAD, have established emergency relief funds to provide emergency food, shelter and rent, transport, protective equipment, including personal protective equipment, masks, disinfectant and sanitary products for the most affected communities.

In several countries, community-based organizations of people who use drugs have provided door-to-door antiretroviral therapy and harm reduction services, including opioid substitution therapy and sterile needles and syringes. These experiences were compiled by the Asia-Pacific Network of People who Use Drugs in a report on best practices for advocating for the full and equal participation of people who use drugs in the HIV response.

Panelists also heard from the Australian Federation of AIDS Service Organizations, which in its national and community responses has supported community-based HIV testing, working directly with community-run clinics for the community. In addition, APCOM, a regional network for gay men and other men who have sex with men based in Bangkok, Thailand, implemented a condom promotion campaign during the COVID-19 pandemic, known as name of #PartyPacks, where key populations can order online (free) packages containing condoms, lubricant and harm reduction information.

Speakers agreed that service delivery needs to be modernized, national investments need to be increased, and services led by key populations need to be integrated into national health systems.

Panelists stressed that dealing with the collision of HIV and COVID-19 pandemics requires working in unison and in solidarity.

QUOTES “Although the trip was not smooth, one of Australia’s main lessons is that community voices are essential. Communities of people living with HIV and high-risk populations and young people – communities who, if we are to truly make a difference, must play a central role in sharing the perspective of those most affected by HIV with national governments.

MITCHELL FIFIELD PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF AUSTRALIA TO THE UNITED NATIONS

“Thailand’s effort on HIV / AIDS is an area where civil society plays a particularly dynamic role in our country. We have recognized that the collaboration of different sectors, especially civil society and the network of people living with HIV, is one of the most important factors in Thailand’s success in controlling the spread of HIV and AIDS. AIDS.

VITAVAS SRIVIHOK PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THALAND TO THE UNITED NATIONS

“The valuable experiences of the communities reflect their long-standing active participation in the response to the HIV epidemic. This is manifested in how they continue to innovate at the forefront of the HIV response and, more recently, to tackle the intersectionality that has emerged from having to also respond to the impact of COVID- 19. “

EAMONN MURPHY UNAIDS REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

“Key populations are widely recognized as the pioneers and leaders in the HIV response. Since the emergence of HIV, key populations have led the way in developing effective prevention responses, sharing their knowledge and skills with the community, and providing essential care and support.

JULES KIM MEMBER OF THE NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION DELEGATION TO THE UNAIDS PROGRAM COORDINATION BOARD

“Community-led organizations are the most effective way to reach sex workers in an emergency, as they are able to provide therapeutic assessment, identify priority areas and allocate resources for various types of relief for sex workers. This is facilitated by an established peer-to-peer model that relies on the trust and knowledge of peer outreach programs, which are also capable of providing emergency assistance to those most in need.



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