Recap of the Asia Pacific New PrEP Modalities for Asia Pacific: What Do We Need to Know?

By February 11, 2022 Advocacy, Newsroom, Regional

On 7 October 2021, APCOM, with the support of WHO, UNAIDS and USAID, along with FHI360, the USAID EpiC Project, PATH, IHRI, PrEP Viet and APTN, organized a webinar focused on the new PrEP modalities in the Asia Pacific region. The 90-minute online session discussed the evidence supporting the long-acting injectable PrEP, CAB-LA from the successful HPTN 083 Study, and also discussed implications for combination prevention and other future PrEP products. It was held in mind with these objectives:

  • To increase awareness of new PrEP products among key population communities and other stakeholders;
  • To provide country examples of good practices for community-led service delivery for new PrEP products with different key populations;
  • To sensitize the community to the issues to be included in the regional values and preference survey.

There were 216 participants joining on Zoom from 27 territories, consisted of Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, the Netherlands, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, and Vietnam. There were also 474 views on APCOM Facebook Live. 

Click down below for resources from the webinar

“In terms of the number of people who are using PrEP, there has been an acceleration recently, despite of COVID-19, which I have to say is a massive achievement. But Asia-Pacific still accounts only 10% of PrEP uses globally in 2020 with an estimated 70,000 users region wide. And you can see that it is only a tiny fraction of the target for 2025 at only 1 or 2%, right now. And outside Australia not enough people have access to or taking PrEP to achieve population level reduction of new HIV infection.”

Dr. Heather-Marie Schmidt, WHO and UNAIDS Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

PrEP has come a long way but still a lot more to do

There has been a significant increase of PrEP uptake in the region, however, there is still room for more improvement to offer different HIV prevention options that will work for different people in various circumstances. In some places, PrEP demand is high but its availability is scarce making accessing the drug a problem. In some places there is already a sizable amount of PrEP uptake but needs a bigger demand to further increase the uptake to scale. Barriers to uptake of PrEP includes, stigma, discrimination and harrassment from the society and sometimes in health care settings.

PrEP injectable will be the one factor to increase PrEP uptake

The current PrEP uptake in the region is still under the target and injectable PrEP may help solve issues around the daily oral PrEP regime. Instead PrEP injection can take place between one and two months and can be timed for the sexual health check as well. This regimen may attract a wider range of people to use PrEP for convenience, and are not able to adhere to the daily oral pill uptake. 

However, there is the practical concern around the scalability of injectable PrEP since it needs to be done in a clinical setting and many places in our region is still not providing oral PrEP yet.

 “At least for Thailand and I believe it may be true for Vietnam as well that our country is relying on key populations led or community led service delivery. Our question will be, whether anyone in our country, any professionals in our country will allow PrEP to be deliver to our clients by someone who is not a doctor, who is not a nurse, if not then that will be a major challenge or barrier in our country.”

Dr. Nittaya Phanuphak, Executive Director, IHRI, Thailand

Get. PrEP. Done. – PrEP Demand Generation toolkit

APCOM, with technical support from UNAIDS and WHO, developed “Get. PrEP. Done. – PrEP Demand Generation Toolkit”, a resource guide specifically developed for community organizations looking to online strategies to generate demand for PrEP among their communities.

The toolkit covers the inception to monitoring phase, along with several easy-to-understand strategies for effective implementation and also support key population communities to actively participate in decision-making processes for the inclusion of PrEP in the intervention programmes at country level. 

APCOM has been receiving a tremendous amount of good responses since its launch in July 2021, and has received support from UNAIDS and The Global Fund’s SKPA Project, to translate the toolkit into 14 languages, which was recently launched: 

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