Asian MSM, transgenders not accessing HIV testing – APCOM

To better understand why MSM and transgender people are not accessing HIV-related health services, the Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM) is joining other regional development and community partners to convene a consultation on the matter. “It is important that community voices are heard, they have to be central in creating demand and improving the take-up for these vital services,” said Midnight Poonkasetwattana, executive director of APCOM.

A great concern of many public health professionals is the large numbers of men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people in Asia not accessing HIV testing and counselling (HTC). Even with such great concerns, there is very little real data that exists adequately measuring the scale of this problem, or the reasons behind it.

In order to better understand why MSM and transgender people are not accessing these vital health services, the Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM) is joining other regional development and community partners to convene a consultation on “Regional Meeting on Community-based HIV testing: Challenges and Opportunities” this October in Bangkok, Thailand. Having such information would greatly increase future efforts at regional and country level to ensure that community demand for HIV testing is created, alongside new testing delivery models that will better address community needs.

“It is important that community voices are heard, they have to be central in creating demand and improving the take-up for these vital services and it is hoped this event will provide real insights into how this can be achieved,” said Midnight Poonkasetwattana, executive director of APCOM.

Concerns over poor coverage, access and supportive environments, held by a number of community members, will be high priority for the many community-based organisations attending the consultation.

“Many current testing models still have a lot to achieve in terms of reaching communities and enabling them access to testing services. However, in scaling up we should ensure the rights of people being tested, and that ethical guidelines are in place. Such issues will also be taken up in the consultation,” said Malu S. Marin, regional coordinator of the Coalition of Asia-Pacific Regional Networks on HIV/AIDS (7 Sisters), one of the conveners of the Regional Consultation.

While access to HIV treatment and care services have expanded in Asia and the Pacific region (44 % of people in need had access to treatment in 2011), access to and uptake of HIV testing among key populations (MSM; sex workers; transgender, people who use drugs and their partners) remains low. More than 50% of people living with HIV are not aware of their HIV status. Many individuals learn of their HIV status at the hospital when diagnosed with an opportunistic infection occurring from advanced disease. This late diagnosis drives the steady increase of annual AIDS-related deaths. There are already some examples of effective interventions. In China in 2012, GZTZ used the Internet to mobilize as many as 5,389 MSM into HIV testing, accounting for 83% of the city’s yearly total.

The consultation will have representatives from the government sectors, essential to understand the communities’ views of HTC and their experiences with service providers, and perform a critical analysis of the current HIV testing models in the region.

Figure1. Percentage of key populations (KP) who received an HIV test in the last 12 months and know their results (selected countries)
KAP

“We know people reach HIV treatment, care, and the full range of prevention options through the gateway of HIV Testing and Counseling (HTC). Our colleagues in China, at GZTZ, highlighted to us how innovation, through the use of the Internet, could prove effect in scaling up HIV testing services amongst MSM. We hope this meeting with facilitate more sharing and learning on this important topic,” Poonkasetwattana said.

APCOM hopes to draw attention to more examples, similar to that in China, through the launch of their new Highlight series focusing on evidence-based examples of good practices in the region.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

HELP US BY HELPING YOU HIT THE RIGHT SPOT

April 2007 marked the launching of Outrage Magazine, the only Webzine made for, and by members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the Philippines.

The LGBTzine remains loyal to the reasons of its existence (i.e. to be a relevant source of info on everything LGBT-related in the Philippines), and we are proud to say that year-on-year since we were established, Outrage Magazine’s scope has broadened, too (aside from the coverage we provide, we actually have programs effecting changes to better the plight of LGBT Filipinos).

No surprise that our reach continues to grow, too, with our Website alone now getting well over 580,000 per month on average (with 10,000 of them unique hits), while our Facebook page (not counting our other online presence) getting over hundreds of thousands of unique visits per week.

Yes, there is a need for information; and yes, we’re more than willing to provide.

And just in time, too, as pink lifestyle long invading mainstream living – think Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, or IKEA, or gay speak, or disco, or brunch, or... you get the point.

This makes the LGBT market, and those it affects, a goldmine for advertisers.

Consider these:
• 81% of LGBTs are more likely to use the Internet to obtain information about goods and services (Witeck-Combs)
• 72% to 94% of LGBTs prefer to buy brands that market directly to them (Harris/Witeck-Combs &Greenfield Online)
• 89% of LGBTs are brand-affiliated, this means that it is “most likely or highly likely to actively seek out brands that had advertised in gay media” (Simmons)
• LGBTs spend an average of 30 minutes per day, 12 times per month online (Nielsen NetRatings)
• LGBTs are twice as likely to be in management positions, twice as likely to have purchased online using a credit card, 79% are willing to pay a premium of quality products and services, 94% of gays and lesbians go out of their way to purchase products and services marketed directly to them in gay media, and 79% of LGBTs are highly likely to indulge themselves (@Plan, Simmons, Greenfield Online & Witeck-Combs)

It is time to target this market, we say.

So use us.

Abuse us, even.

This is the only time we will gladly let you.

advertise@outragemag.com