The Last Mile First: Safeguarding Communities During HIV and COVID-19 report — jointly developed by AFAO and APCOM—contributes to the dialogue among communities, governments, development partners and international organizations in the region as a response to the impact of COVID-19 on key populations, people living with HIV, and HIV related service delivery.
“The pandemic has devastated the livelihoods of many people in the service and entertainment industries. These are sectors that often employ members of HIV key populations. There is a hard connection between personal economic security and someone’s capacity to stay healthy,”Darryl O’Donnell, Chief Executive of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisation says.
“We face a genuine threat of medicine supply chains being disrupted. Everyone in the global public health community must strive to ensure anti-retroviral medicine keeps reaching those who need it. This will keep people healthy while also keeping their viral load suppressed.”
The Last mile first report highlights the following,
- Issues for key populations and people living with HIV in Asia and the Pacific.
- Steps to be taken to date to address COVID-19.
- Gaps in those responses and the associated risks for key populations.
- Recommendations to address these risks and ensure key populations are not left behind; and civil society organizations, regional key population networks and HIV services can withstand the additional pressures arising during this extraordinary period.
“Our team pivoted our work extremely quickly in times of uncertainties to start data collection on the effect of COVID-19 on key populations in our region. Here’s a huge gap in the needs of the community, and access to funding for other emergency and livelihoods needs remains a challenge,”says APCOM Executive Director, Midnight Poonkasetwattana.
“This paper shows there is an urgent need to maintain the health and economic security of people living with HIV and also those at risk of it,” Darryl O’Donnell adds. “We must be prepared to trial new ways of doing things, like providing multi-month courses of medicine, online outreach to key populations and the use of emergency funds to provide basics such as food to some populations. One of the critical recommendations that must be taken up is to designate civil society groups on the front line of HIV prevention and treatment as essential services.”
To see more about this report, please click here.