AIDS 2014 – the 20th International AIDS Conference

Fun Fast Facts:

Updated:   22 Jul 2014   (Combating HIV in the Asia-Pacific Region)

  • 4.8 million people are living with HIV in the Asia-Pacific region at the end of 2013.
  • There are 350,000 new infections each year – that’s 40 people every hour.
  • 22,000 children contract HIV every year across the region.
  • Only 50% of female sex workers and one third of men who have sex with men are aware of their HIV status in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • All 38 countries still have some laws impeding the delivery of a response to HIV.

Combating HIV in the Asia-Pacific Region

Broadcast: 22 Jul 2014

W3JOY interviewed: Peter Botten, Oil Search Managing Director and Kevin Miles, Manager of Health Programs from the Oil Search Foundation, Papua New Guinea

“The vast majority of our people come from the highlands of Papua New Guinea and their health is of importance to us. Whether they catch malaria or whether they have HIV/AIDS is very, very important.”
“We’re also facing that the government has no capacity to manage it (health response) and deal with it so we take a hand.”
“There’s a number of hot spots around the country. There’s some specific groups that are much more high affected with HIV, particularly the men who have sex with men population, transgender and sex worker populations. But there are also some geographic areas where we tend to see some high prevalence of HIV. And where we’re working in the highlands, the whole highlands is generally more affected than say the coastal areas”
“There are still a lot of clan or tribal clashes that go on. There’s about 800 different languages and 800 different clans…it has an effect on health, infrastructure and certainly HIV.”
“As a large corporate in PNG, we took a view some years ago that we should extend the health care that we provide to our staff and our families, especially in the rural sectors in PNG, out into the broader communities and in those areas where unfortunately the government struggles to deliver anything”

W3JOY interviewed: John Kaldor from The Kirby Institute at the University of NSW

“Indonesia is a country that has had a diverse HIV epidemic in different populations but generally populations that have often had difficulty accessing testing and treatment, possibly because of marginalisation or discrimination.”
“The range of strategies is going to be worked through with the partners in Indonesia. We’re not saying we know the right strategies. We’re providing a mechanism to undertake observational research with our Indonesian partners – not just the researchers but very much the community partners – to identify what are the best strategies that encourage people to get tested… and get treated.”

W3JOY interviewed: Bruce Parnell from The Burnett Institute

“We were aware that people come from low-income countries to a conference like this and find it overwhelming. So what we really enjoyed doing was doing participatory work at the (pre-conference) workshop. It wasn’t sitting and hearing PowerPoints. The theme of the workshop was leadership and the idea is the Australian government is funding programs to build the leaders of the future.”
“The ideal is that we bring people together in a country. We bring together governments and community groups and medical staff and researchers and church groups – not always Christian churches but religious groups – and start by doing a really good situational analysis, do the epidemiology and find who’s at risk. Then we work with them to look at how can we make it easy for those groups to access prevention, testing and treatment. They will come up with ways to do it but then we look at the barriers. And the barriers are often cultural, they’re sometimes political, they’re sometimes just a lack of understanding.”
“For HIV, the most important difference is the Pacific island countries have very small populations, very high rates of sexually transmitted infections and teenage pregnancies but they don’t have much HIV. Ironically, what I’ve observed is that stigma and discrimination are often worst in the countries with the smallest numbers of people with HIV.”

W3JOY interviewed: Midnight Poonkasetwattana from Asia-Pacific Coalition for Men who have sex with men (APCOM)

“There’s a lot of countries that still have the Section 377 (laws) that prohibit gay sex however when we do use the health angle I think the governments are quite keen to work with these populations”
“In terms of Thai society – we like new ideas and people are quite responsive to that. Yes the imaging and the slogan is very ‘out there’ for some people but for us, it is how do we target our communities and make sure the communities understand the need to do HIV testing but at the same time to also enjoy their healthy sexual life as well.”
“In this day and age, social media – you have to be involved with it. Prevention services and treatment services in many countries still rely on peer educators, going out there one to one to hot spots. But that means there are other populations, other networks, younger people who don’t actually go to those hot spots any more. Test BKK helps to reach other populations that are not being reached traditionally.”

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