In September 2015, APCOM, together with multiple UN and other development agencies, co-organized “PrEParing Asia” – the region’s first community-led consultation to discuss with policymakers, healthcare providers and community advocates the strategies of introducing Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) as a new tool for HIV prevention for gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) within the Asia and Pacific region. Since the consultation, eight countries have created next-step plans for the roll out of PrEP within their respective national contexts, ranging from national consultation to behavioral studies to preparation of the pilot project. These countries are China, Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.
APCOM’s new report “PrEParing Asia: A Year After” outlines the activities that have been ongoing within these eight countries, while also documenting the progressive steps taken in several additional countries within the region. Malaysia, Hong Kong SAR, Indonesia, Myanmar and Laos have conducted a country consultation or a smaller technical group discussion. Vietnam and the Philippines will soon launch the dissemination pilot project.
The report also documents APCOM’s own PrEP-related work a year following PrEParing Asia, which includes numerous facilitations on PrEP workshops or national/regional dialogues both inside and outside of the region, such as in Singapore, Tbilisi (Georgia), Geneva (Switzerland) and Durban (South Africa).
Both successes and challenges encountered thus far along the road to making PrEP an accessible and affordable HIV prevention option is also documented in the report. Asia is experiencing a severe AIDS epidemic among MSM. In six countries HIV prevalence is greater than 5% and surveys indicate that in some large cities prevalence ranges from 15% to 30% among MSM. Consistent condom use remains low. In most major Asian cities less than half of MSM are using condoms consistently, which is far too low to have an impact on stopping the epidemic. PrEP, with its efficacy up to 96% in preventing the transmission of HIV, answers the unmet need and expands the prevention options for MSM at substantial risk of HIV.
“The regional PrEP consultation demonstrated the added-value rule of APCOM to getting more country engagements – the community and other sectors in our region – to look at integrating PrEP as part of a prevention option for gay men. What we do need urgently is a scaled up PrEP services and making HIV testing more accessible to our communities to reach the UNAIDS Fast-track targets, and APCOM looks forward to continue our PrEP advocacy with partners in 2017,” said APCOM Executive Director Midnight Poonkasetwattana.
+ To download “PrEParing Asia: A Year After”, go to https://apcom.org/AYearAfterPrEParingAsia.
+ To discover more about the PrEParing Asia meeting, go to https://apcom.org/PrEParingAsia.
+ To learn more about PrEP, APCOM’s Bangkok-based HIV testing campaign TestBKK provides a helpful Q&As in both English and Thai. Go to http://testbkk.org to access them.
Header caption: Participants at Lao PDR’s PrEP National Consultation (top); PrEP dialogue in Singapore, APCOM Executive Director Midnight Poonkasetwattana and IAS President Chris Beyrer at PrEParing Asia 2015, PrEP workshop in Tbilisi (bottom – left to right)