Renier Louie Bona is a senior researcher in Addictus Research and Intervention Center Inc., an NGO focusing on persons who use drugs, and sexual and reproductive health. He is also currently the Vice President of the Board of TLF Sexuality, Health, and Rights Educators Collective Inc., an NGO that seeks to develop programs, and review policies for the key populations in the Philippines. This NGO sits as a member of the Philippine National AIDS Council, the highest advisory body to the Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines. He also co-founded a devolved HIV clinic in Metro Manila. His special interest is on the intersectionalities of HIV and drug use.
What am I bringing into APCOM
“I would like to bring into the discussion the experiences of our organization in HIV and human rights work, particularly in the context of war on drugs, incarceration, and extra-judicial killings. There is a need for regional cooperation especially where the environment for the MSM and TG (including those who use drugs, and involved in sex work) is harsh. Further support is needed for community-based organizations who work in risky situations. In contexts like this, prior program development and policy advocacy, human rights education and popularization may be an immediate need first. This way, our local partners are not put in risky and unsafe situations. Everyone cannot be safe if at least one is not (institutionally) protected.”
APCOM in its new strategic phase
“There is a need to address human rights barriers, especially in accessing healthcare interventions. Stigmatization and discrimination push the key populations into hiding. And a hidden population cannot be (properly) intervened. If we want to address HIV, we need to address these barriers, most especially in contexts where these barriers are systemic, systematic, and structural. Regional support should focus on these barriers.”
“The Asia and the Pacific region is a highly diverse region. Given this, focus should be where the barriers are seen to be more complex and more systematic. In areas where human rights situations are dismal, there is a need to go back to basics: human rights education, popularization, community organizing, and giving support to the amplification of the voices of the key populations.”
“HIV is not over until we address the structures that further the marginalization of the key populations.”