New Guideline for Effective HIV Programming for Gay Men in Asia

By July 16, 2016 Publications

APCOM has launched a new MSM framework guide for effective HIV service programming at the 21st International AIDS Conference’s MSM Pre-Conference, Action + Access: Rights and Demands of Gay and Bisexual Men in the HIV Response, hosted by MSMGF on July 16 in Durban, South Africa. ”Changing Gears: a guide to effective HIV service programming for gay men and other men who have sex with men in Asia”, as the new framework is titled, aims to strengthen the on-going national and regional efforts to revive the HIV response for gay and bi men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in Asian countries. The guide was developed with technical assistance from UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific and serves as a resource to design or assess comprehensive HIV services for MSM in Asian cities, territories, regions or countries, incorporating recent innovations and the latest science on what works.

“The HIV epidemic among gay men and other men who have sex with men has reached a crisis point in several countries in Asia,” said Steve Kraus, Director of UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific. “We must urgently implement a new programmatic approach that is tailored to the specific needs of the MSM community. This framework is a solid guide which ensures no-one is left behind and puts the region on track to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.”

“We must urgently implement a new programmatic approach that is tailored to the specific needs of the MSM community. This framework is a solid guide which ensures no-one is left behind and puts the region on track to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.”

The HIV epidemic among MSM continues to be of concern in Asia and the Pacific, particularly among young MSM living in large urban areas. For example, recent surveys indicate that HIV prevalence among MSM in Bangkok, Thailand was 28.6% in 2014 and 20.3% in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in 2013. Although there are agreed global targets on ending the HIV epidemic by 2030, different approaches are necessary for every country as each local context demands a different strategy to reach gay men and other MSM.

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The framework guide consists of four components: The first deals with strategic information and evidence; the second with a comprehensive package of interventions; the third component zooms in on the special and urgent needs of adolescent and young MSM, and the final component discusses the need for links to and integration of HIV services into a broader package of health and social services for MSM. At the end of each component, the framework includes a checklist that can be used to assess the state of HIV responses for MSM at the city or national (or other) level, and it provides recommendations for what can be done if particular elements of a comprehensive HIV response for MSM are not yet there.

“Designing and implementing new approaches for reaching out to MSM are important, incorporating innovations, new models and latest science. By putting evidence in lay language, the MSM framework is accessible to and useful for a broad coalition of stakeholders working on HIV and male sexual health in general.”

“The HIV epidemic among MSM are rapidly rising and the behaviors among this population are constantly changing. We need to change gears and reanimate the HIV response,” said Midnight Poonkasetwattana, Executive Director of APCOM. “Designing and implementing new approaches for reaching out to MSM are important, incorporating innovations, new models and latest science. By putting evidence in lay language, the MSM framework is accessible to and useful for a broad coalition of stakeholders working on HIV and male sexual health in general.”

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The framework is closely linked to other initiatives, like the MSMGF toolkit “Implementing Comprehensive HIV and STI Programmes with Men Who Have Sex with Men: Practical Guidance for Collaborative Interventions (MSM Implementation Toolkit)” which is designed for use by public health officials and managers of HIV/AIDS and STI programmes, NGOs and health workers. In addition, APCOM’s MSM Framework can also be applied together with UNDP’s “The Time Has Come” training Package, which builds on the capacity of health care providers in the region to address prevention, treatment, care and support services for STI and HIV among MSM and transgender people.