Communications and Demand Generation Officer
The Sustainability of HIV Services for Key Populations in Asia Programme (SKPA) is a multi-country grant funded by The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The programme is led by the Australian Federation of AIDS organizations (AFAO) and implemented in eight countries with the goal to scale up and promote sustainable HIV prevention services for key populations to stop HIV transmission and AIDS related deaths by 2030. APCOM, as regional network partner, provides technical assistance for the programme in two pillars:
- Community Based Monitoring (CBM) to strengthen strategic information on improving the quality and access to HIV services and;
- Demand Generation (DG) to mitigate service delivery gaps by generating demand for HIV services among key populations.
APCOM is well known for its online campaigns work started by its demonstration project started in Thailand, testBKK in 2014, which then went regional under the banner of testXXX, implemented in several countries across Asia, including Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam; also Laos and Mongolia – both implemented under the SKPA programme. Our PrEP advocacy and campaign also started in 2014, which led to ground-breaking regional PrEPARING ASIA consultation on PrEP in 2015.
As a relatively new intervention in the Asia region, PrEP requires massive promotion efforts that aim to raise awareness and increase its uptake, particularly among key population communities. Educational efforts are equally important, as several myths and misconceptions about the ground-breaking drug are still out there, not only among communities but also in the healthcare settings. With several PrEP demonstration projects and plans to scale up PrEP under the SKPA programme currently underway, APCOM is providing technical assistance to country partners and working hand-in-hand to accelerate this exciting initiative. Listed below the highlights of PrEP demand generation activities at country level:
PrEP is a sizzling hot new intervention in Laos, where the first ever PrEP client enrolled in mid-January 2021. To ensure concerted efforts, CHIas is implementing testVTE, an online digital campaign modelled after APCOM’s flagship campaign testXXX and aims not only to create demand for PrEP, but also HIV self-testing. Plans for website development and campaign photoshoot is currently underway, and an implementation plan developed to effectively reach the men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women community in Vientiane capital. The new campaign just published its first-ever content on Facebook a few days ago on July 20, 2021 and the response so far has been great!
PrEP demand generation in the country also joined forces with FHI 360 EpiC Laos, who provided support for PrEP-specific community-based support and campaign integration with their signature Going Online initiatives. With the trusted technical assistance provided by APCOM, CHIas is gradually gaining the confidence to reach the initial target of 250 participants for PrEP.
test4UB kickstarted by Youth for Health at the end of August 2020. The campaign is modelled after APCOM’s flagship campaign testXXX and used the slogan “TEST. PrEP. SEX. REPEAT.” test4UB aims to boost promotion of PrEP as an innovative HIV intervention, and increase the uptake of HIV testing among the MSM community in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital.
Youth for Health successfully launched the campaign in a lavish, chic and fashionable manner, despite the pandemic situation where plan for the launch got delayed several times. The grand launch also marked the unveiling of the campaign’s website, which has received more than 100,000 page views as of June 2021. Different mediums are explored to generate demand for PrEP, from short films to a relatively new digital platform such as podcasts. From the 250 people who signed up, there are currently 50 people who are on PrEP and the number keeps on growing to date. Youth for Health, together with APCOM, are in the process of assessing the campaign since the beginning of June 2021.
Papua New Guinea
APCOM went the extra mile in providing all necessary details for the plan of demand generation activities in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Starting from the development of concept note, all preparatory work has been done for a solid campaign that will reach the MSM, transgender women and female sex worker, and emphasizing more on the younger generation of those populations. The initiative is set to be directly linked to community-based testing, however, the rapidly escalating COVID-19 cases in the country, along with other technical issues has caused significant delay. Burnet Institute, along with Key Population Consortium as implementing partners, are working hard to ensure all underway progress would be up for implementation soon. While PrEP is currently not available in the country, there’s a plan for a PrEP operational study or research, set to take place in 2022 under the Global Fund national grant.
LoveYourself, Inc. is very ambitious to do innovative online demand generation campaigns to the best of their capacity, with series of planned seasonal campaigns that will run one after another during the SKPA programme’s lifespan. Based on comprehensive data from an online survey involving 1,001 participants and a few numbers of key informant interviews, the LoveYourself, Inc. team were able to formulate #SaferNowPH, a nationwide campaign for key populations community at large. The campaign mostly focuses on combination prevention – highly emphasized PrEP and U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable) or treatment as prevention. #SaferNowPH highlights numerous activities including online talk show, webinars, photography contest, online dating show, free PrEP contest – complementing regular information dissemination on social media channels. It also utilizes technological features (chatbot system) and interesting campaign strategy like mobilizing hot doctors and nurses as campaign ambassadors.
#SaferNowPH is going stronger as it garnered partnerships from more than 20 community-based organizations across the country along with major supporters and other notable stakeholders. It is set to be integrated with other programmes at country level, where PROTECTS and FHI 360 EpiC Philippines are going to distribute more than 20,000 free PrEP bottles. The series of campaigns are currently going through the assessment phase, which APCOM is proving support to.