Let Communities Lead! World AIDS Day 2023 Webinar

By December 14, 2023 December 18th, 2023 SKPA

Nicky Suwandi

APCOM, Thailand

In commemoration of World AIDS Day 2023, and as part of SKPA-2 Learning Series, a webinar was held on 29 November 2023. The regional Asia Pacific webinar aimed to highlight stories and ground-level realities of community-led organizations in the time of serving their respective communities and how they thrive in delivering meaningful HIV responses.

“Coinciding with this year’s World AIDS Day, I believe that empowerment and support for key populations are crucial in the fight against this global health pandemic. Communities possess invaluable knowledge, experiences, and resources that are instrumental in developing effective prevention, treatment, and support systems,”

said Tenzin Gyeltshen, Executive Director of Pride Bhutan. He added,

“By acknowledging and fostering community leadership, we can create inclusive, sustainable solutions to combat stigma, increase access to healthcare, promote education, and ultimately work towards ending AIDS.”

Objectives of the webinar included:

  1. To highlight community-led organizations and their meaningful work, based on the theme of World AIDS Day 2023: Let Communities Lead; 
  2. To provide examples of good practices and innovations in community-led responses and showcase why key population organizational leadership is key in the HIV response; 
  3. To identify opportunities and challenges in sustaining community-led organizations and initiatives, and potential solutions.

Midnight Poonkasetwattana, APCOM Executive Director, commented, “As demonstrated on this webinar, community-led organisations are ready to take the leadership role and can add even greater impact to their community and the global HIV response if they are supported with adequate funding for core and capacity development, supportive law, policy and regulations, and to see us as equal partners and meaningfully engage with us for joint solutions.”

The crescendo of the webinar was the panel discussion with 5 community leaders, where facilitator from APCOM asked questions about their meaningful engagement at country level, leadership in achieving the national and Global HIV/AIDS target, and their relationship with government and other stakeholders in their country. Presented in talk show format, the session also touched upon challenges of establishment of their organization and its sustainability. 

“Communities should have the opportunity to talk about what they need in HIV services, especially transgender persons. Some services do not cover comprehensive care for them, for example gender-affirming care for transgender people living with HIV. If they are given chance to express their needs and wants, and in response health service provider would really listen and do action, services for communities indubitably would change for the better,”

Lattavanh, who is the Health and Gender Coordinator at Community Health and Inclusion Association (CHIAs) in Lao PDR, further added to her comment,

“To achieve the ambitious 95 95 95 target for all, we have to involve the community in every HIV movement, because we cannot work for community without community.” 

In the webinar, Scott McQuade, UNAIDS Policy, Knowledge and Partnerships Adviser, mentioned, “We’re determined that the slogan of World AIDS Day 2023 is not a one-off initiative. Instead, this is one more step on the path to ending AIDS by putting communities at the center of the response.” 

As a representative from UNAIDS Asia Pacific Regional Support Team, he also stated, “So let community’s leaders a rallying cry for communities across the world, and as part of a multi-year effort to deliver on the promises of the Global AIDS Strategy. To forge this path together, we must continue to create opportunities and to be inspired by the many incredible work already being done.”

Published on: 12-Dec-2023

Webinar Speakers (in alphabetical order):

  • Gabriele “Blue” Lalic (HASH, Philippines)
  • Lattavanh Sengdala (CHIAs, Lao PDR)
  • Lesley Bola (Key Populations Advocacy Consortium, Papua New Guinea)
  • Matthew Kusen (Health Equity Matters/SKPA-2)
  • Midnight Poonkasetwattana (APCOM)
  • Scott McQuade (UNAIDS Asia Pacific)
  • Selvan Antony (APCOM)
  • Tenzin Gyeltshen (Pride Bhutan, Bhutan)
  • Van Tien Dinh (PLUTO, Vietnam)

About the Contributor

Nicky Suwandi (He/Him/His)

Knowledge Management & Learning
APCOM, Thailand

Nicky led the demand generation initiatives during SKPA-1, and with his current position, he is aiming to facilitate discussions and promote cross-learning in the SKPA-2 project and beyond. In addition, his work is deeply rooted in creating meaningful changes for key population communities, specifically on HIV online interventions, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and sexualized drug use or chemsex. Hailing from Indonesia, he is equipped with a degree in communication studies, and have experience working in a national network for men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women, which comprises more than 80 community-based organizations and support groups across the archipelago.

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