Held this July 18-22 in Durban, South Africa, the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) is the premier global gathering for people working across the field of HIV. amfAR’s TREAT Asia and Public Policy Office will have a strong presence at the conference, which will provide an opportunity for participants to evaluate recent scientific and policy developments, and plan for future action. amfAR is a supporting partner of AIDS 2016.
Giten Khwairakpam, Project Manager for Community and Policy, will be a panelist during the 3rd International HIV/Viral Hepatitis Co-infection Meeting, one of the many pre-conference activities taking place ahead of the main AIDS 2016 program. The meeting will focus on identifying opportunities for increased diagnosis and treatment of viral hepatitis in people living with HIV and AIDS, particularly in low and middle-income settings.
A key focus for this year’s main conference is on efforts to reduce new infections and AIDS-related deaths among adolescents. HIV is the second leading cause of death among adolescents worldwide, and adolescents are the only group of people living with HIV with a rising mortality rate. Dr. Annette Sohn, Director of TREAT Asia, will take part in a session on clinical models of HIV care for adolescents, presenting a talk titled Transition of Thai HIV-infected adolescents to adult HIV care: Peer interactions and peer support for positive health outcomes. “Learning how to empower young people and help them transition into adult life while continuing their HIV care is one of the highest priorities of TREAT Asia’s pediatric program,” says Dr. Sohn.
A related session taking place in ViiV Healthcare’s Global Village program will be on effective community-based interventions addressing adolescent HIV, and will feature TREAT Asia’s Youth ACATA (Asia Community for AIDS Treatment and Advocacy) program, which was launched in 2015 to mentor and encourage HIV-positive youth to become community leaders. In this session Dr. Sohn, along with TREAT Asia’s Dr. Jeremy Ross, Director of Research, Mr. Khwairakpam, and three Youth ACATA participants, will share their experiences with the program and discuss the importance of youth mentorship.
An organization that works closely with TREAT Asia and amfAR’s GMT Initiative, Adam’s Love, will be involved in multiple activities of the conference. Adam’s Love is an online HIV outreach initiative for men who have sex with men (MSM) and Transgender (TG) women that was launched five years ago by The Thai Red Cross Research Centre. Tarandeep Anand, the director of Adam’s Love, will co-facilitate and present at a workshop titled Reaching the Unreached: Service Uptake and Retention Among Marginalized Populationsand will be a panelist at a discussion titled Hyperlink(ages): MSM Community-Based Approaches in Using Information and Communication Technology Along the Continuum of Prevention, Care, Treatment and Support. These sessions will focus on reaching populations at high risk for HIV and will explore opportunities for collaboration between community-based organizations, governments, and the private sector.
Mr. Anand will present the amfAR-supported online supervised self-testing and online-to-offline treatment and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) campaigns in Thailand. Under the direction of Dr. Nittaya Phanuphak, one of the plenary speakers at AIDS 2016, Adam’s Love provides this online supervised self-testing, as well as counseling and online treatment registration via its innovative Electronic Health Record (EHR) system. People who test negative are encouraged to come to the Thai Red Cross Anonymous Clinic for PrEP as part of a prevention combination package. “Our evidence-based programs and emerging data demonstrate that we can engage MSM and TG subgroups into care who have been hard to reach or who would otherwise shy away from testing, treatment, and prevention,” says Mr. Anand. “We are excited for the opportunity the Durban conference provides to share our experiences, learn from others who have had success with technology-based outreach programs, and establish new collaborations.”
amfAR’s Office of Public Policy will present and launch two major reports at the conference: Is PEPFAR Funding for Key Populations Aligned with the Epidemiologic Burden? and Following the Money to Key Populations, National Priorities, and Evidence-Based Budgeting: A Qualitative Assessment of the Use of Key Populations Data on Domestic Budgeting Practices in Kenya and South Africa. “The strategic use of data to identify areas of need and to target resources to where they are most necessary is essential if we are to get ahead of the epidemic,” says Brian Honermann, Deputy Director. “This means ensuring budgets are evidence based and pay special attention to key populations most at risk of HIV infection: gay men and other MSM, people who inject drugs, sex workers, transgender people, and prisoners.” Public Policy staff will also participate in the Women NOW pre-conference (co-sponsored by amfAR) on a panel titled Hidden Trends: Aggregated data conceals massive gender disparities in Sub-Saharan Africa, and will give oral presentations during the Action + Access pre-conference meeting on the rights and demands of gay and bisexual men in the global HIV response.
More information about TREAT Asia’s abstract presentations can be found here.