APCOM Executive Director, Midnight joined Global Equality Caucus and St Vincent’s Center for Applied Medical Research hosted by Alex Greenwich MP, and A/Prof Anthony Schembri AM, for the launch of the Handbook aimed at Legislators in the Asia Pacific region.
Marked inequalities are stalling progress in the HIV response, and HIV is further widening those inequalities. Punitive laws, harmful policies and practices, criminalization of key populations, stigma and discrimination and gender-based violence are exacerbating the risks of HIV infection and remain critical barriers to an effective HIV response.
The event was attended by legislators from the region, and were given the small A5 handbook packed full of HIV data, as well as best practices that legislators can use for their setting.
Midnight remarked, “… the community has always been an integral part of the response – to call to account, to make noise by going to the streets, to bring the evidence of the real and lived experiences of people living with HIV and key populations – and to remind us all that our work is far from over.”
He mentioned that financial sustainability of the HIV response is also a challenge in this region, where there is 57% gap in the estimated annual resource needed to meet the 2025 targets, and prevention resources need to be expanded.
The UNAIDS Global AIDS Update 2022 indicates that only 10% of total HIV spending was allocated for key populations in the region in 2021.
“We need support and political will from legislators to ensure that enabling laws and policy environments are in place to support the sustainability of key population-led interventions and service delivery. We learnt from Covid-19 that the most marginalised groups are being reached through services for and by the community, and legislators will need to make laws that grow such interventions at scale to end the epidemic in Asia and the Pacific region for key populations.”Midnight concluded.