Longtime activist and award-winning MyFabulousDisease.com blogger Mark S. King has put out the popular annual list of HIV Advocates to Watch again this year; this time featuring a mix of well-known and undiscovered activists of all ages and around the globe; and lo and behold, our beloved Executive Director Midnight Poonkasetwattana is one of the chosen 16.
Midnight, who is the only one hailing from Asia within the list, is quoted as follow:
Watch Midnight pondering on WHO Guidelines on Key Populations during AIDS 2014 Conference:
See more videos of APCOM at AIDS 2014 here.
If you talk to anyone who works with communities at HIV risk in the Asia Pacific, the conversation will quickly turn to the work of Midnight Poonkasetwattana, the extremely busy head of the Asia-Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Helath in Asia and the Pacific (APCOM) in Bangkok, Thailand. In a region in which a huge portion of new infections are among gay men, he has his work cut out for him.
“At the heart of HIV response is the need to recognize the rights of people regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expressions” says Midnight. “As a gay man this is important to me. In the Asia Pacific region, gay men and men who have sex with men will account for 50 percent of new HIV infection in 2020 — we only have a small window to avert this.” APCOM has stepped up HIV testing and outreach to younger men who have sex with men and transgender youth.
Like any other HIV advocate, the road can be discouraging – but Midnight has the right attitude. “What keeps me going is the desire to see change,” he says. “I want to see strong community organizations that are being recognized and treated as experts; not just as rhetoric that we normally hear. I want to bring in new and younger people to the movement to form new responses and ensures that we keep apace of the changing dynamics and that we are changing hearts and minds.”
Chris Beyrer, the current (and first openly gay) president of the International AIDS Society, has great confidence that Midnight will be a force for change in 2016. “Midnight is a dynamic emerging leader,” says Chris. “He is leading the community charge for sex positive PrEP programming in the region—where not a single Government is currently providing PrEP through national health systems. He’s out loud and proud, and a great voice for our global community.”
Other HIV advocates in the list include Tonga-based trans activist Joey Joleen Mataele, UK-based I Want PrEP Now creator, Greg Owen, and New Zealand AIDS Foundation staff, Charlie Tredway. See the complete list at HIVPlusMag, the world’s leading magazine focusing on HIV matters.