Bangkok, 2 March 2018: The outcomes of last year’s groundbreaking Connecting Asia consultation in Bangkok – which focused on using digital communications to tackle the rising impact of HIV on gay men in Asia – are detailed in a newly released report.
Produced and led by APCOM, Connecting Asia was a three-day event held in Bangkok in June last year. The conference was attended by over 170 HIV and community health workers from 29 countries across the region and aimed to improve how they use information and communication technologies (ICT) to get gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM) to connect with HIV prevention, testing and treatment.
The consultation was supported by United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) LINKAGES Project (managed by FHI360), and UNAIDS.
Leading experts from the ICT and HIV sectors helped participants explore topics such as promoting HIV prevention and testing via social media and mobile dating apps, as well as using ICT to help people with HIV get treatment. Participants also worked in teams to develop new ICT based HIV initiatives and developed roadmaps for the inclusion of new ICT strategies in the HIV responses of specific countries.
APCOM Executive Director Midnight Poonkasetwattana says the new report provides a useful summary of the outcomes of the consultation and includes information on how frontline HIV and community workers across Asia are planning on using digital communications in their work with MSM and other populations impacted by HIV.
“Our Connecting Asia consultation provided an important step for our region in terms of tapping the potential of ICT for educating MSM – especially young MSM – about issues related to HIV,” Mr Poonkasetwattana says. The focus was on innovative technologies that have shown tangible results as well as what the community is learning from current ICT program efforts in order to guide future scale-up to accelerate progress.
“With this as its foundation, Our Connecting Asia outcomes report highlights what is needed for a community-led ICT response to HIV and MSM in Asia, identifying key required inputs, actions, and lessons learned. The report will be an extremely useful reference for HIV workers across Asia and the Pacific for the development of their local HIV education programmes and will also serve as a useful resource for organisations seeking data for their advocacy and fundraising efforts in relation to ICT related initiatives.”
Director, Office of Public Health for USAID’s Regional Development Mission For Asia Melissa Jones: “Through the LINKAGES Project run by FHI 360, USAID was honoured to be a co-sponsor of the forum which showcased how organisations are meeting the prevention needs of MSM in virtual spaces with innovative, targeted and highly interactive communications.”
UNAIDS Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific Eamonn Murphy: “Innovation and new approaches are crucial if we are to succeed in ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. As a connected community, with ICT solutions that are community-based and community-led, we believe this is possible.”
The report is available on the APCOM website.
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