Bangkok, 10 May 2016 – APCOM announced its Regional Advisory Group (RAG), following its first meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand, on 18-20 April 2016. APCOM now completes the restructuring of its governance bodies with new members include: Dédé Oetomo, Indonesia (Chair), Dr Donn Colby, Thailand (Vice Chair), Andrew Chidgey, Hong Kong (Secretary), Tony Sakulpongyuenyong, Thailand (Treasurer), Dr Muhammad Moiz, Pakistan, Nicolas Parkhill, Australia and Isikeli Vulavou, Fiji. For more information on the members of APCOM’s Regional Advisory Group, please visit https://www.apcom.org/about-apcom/our-team and click “Regional Advisory Group” tab.
“I am very pleased to see that APCOM’s governance transition is now finalised with the installation of our new Regional Advisory Group with great experts and colleagues from across the region to push APCOM’s work forward as the needs and issues are urgent and pressing for MSM and transgender communities in terms of HIV, health, human rights and well-being” said Dédé Oetomo, Chair of the Regional Advisory Group. He continued, “We have substantially strengthened our governance and strategic capacity in order to face the current and future challenges and be as effective as we can be as a regional organisation. We are pleased to provide feedback on the zero draft of the 2016 Political Declaration.”
APCOM’s new governing body took on a timely and important initiative to comment on the 2016 Political Declaration Zero Draft on the Fast-Track to End AIDS in the age of Sustainable Development. On 08-10 June, at the 2016 High Level meeting on Ending AIDS, UN member states will undertake a comprehensive review of the progress achieved in the past Political Declarations on HIV and AIDS. This HLM will produce the 2016 Political Declaration on Ending AIDS, which will guide national HIV responses and plans, human rights and legal reforms, and financing commitments from donors and domestic governments for the period 2016-2021.
APCOM RAG welcome the progressive language set forth in the Zero Draft, and is pleased to see specific reference to MSM and transgender persons as some of the key populations at higher risk of HIV infection in the Zero Draft. APCOM also welcomes the detailed inclusion of commitments and focus on issues such as the removal of punitive laws, policies and practices that hinder HIV services, and the acknowledgement of the link between these issues and the HIV response.
However, APCOM RAG is alarmed that the rapidly escalating epidemic among MSM in Asia is not adequately noted, despite 50% of new transmissions forecast to come from this population, especially from its young cohort, by 2020. Only by fully acknowledging MSM within the epidemic in Asia can the declaration encourage member states to address the epidemic among MSM communities in their own countries. The Declaration also needs to strengthen commitments to ensure that service delivery is friendly for young key populations.
An addition, as a follow up, APCOM and Youth Voices Count (YVC), with the support of Australian Federation of AIDS Organizations (AFAO) developed a Special Brief to encourage its country partners and other civil society organsiations to participate in the discussions leading to the final outcome of the HLM. The special brief echoes the five key priorities highlighted by the Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF) and recommends retention of commitments for key populations, young people, HIV financing, community involvement, and other issues urgent in Asia Pacific Region.
As the Political Declaration will have a significant influence on national strategic plans and HIV programmes for 2016-2021. It is vital communities at all levels engage and advocate effectively with member states to ensure retention of language and commitments supporting key populations within the goal to end AIDS by 2030.