By September 8, 2023 September 22nd, 2023 Advocacy, Learning

Scaling up HIV Self Testing for Key Populations 

APCOM in partnership with PEPFAR/USAID/EpiC, organized a regional webinar to learn from the different country pilots in the region on HIVST on 11 August 2023 with speakers from USAID/RDMA, NCHADS Cambodia, WHO HQ, Spiritia Foundation – Indonesia, EpIC – Laos, Malaysian AIDS Council – Malaysia, Institute of HIV Research and Innovation -Thailand. This webinar brought together 50 + participants from Key Population Communities, Civil Society Organizations, Governments, and other stakeholders in the Asia Pacific region and ran for over 90 minutes. 

Specific objectives included 

  • To familiarize ourselves with the latest WHO recommendations on HIV testing services and HIV self-testing
  • To learn from HIVST pilots in the region 
  • To strategize on integrating HIVST into national programs  

“I see this commitment today as a technical and Financial Partners as regional community-based organizations come together to learn about HIV epidemic control using HIV self testing as one of key strategies. I especially want to thank the leadership of Our Community Partners WHO, and the UNAIDS regional support team and APCOM for their support on this collaboration with our stakeholders to provide critical services for key populations”

Dr. Pimpanitta Saenyakul, USAID/RDMA

This webinar opened with welcome remarks by Dr. Pimpanitta Saenyakul, USAID/RDMA, and she gave information about estimates of HIV infection in the Asia Pacific region and emphasized that the vast majority of the high infection is among Key Population communities. Putting the stress on Ending AIDS is a high priority in the region,  she suggested working with local governments and international partners to seek support. 

“In Cambodia right now, we just try to combine and include many methods that can identify HIV test cases, including my partner testing and key population testing  so that we have many options that patients and populations can select or choose which one is their preference.”

Dr. Ngauv Bora from NCHADS, Cambodia

Dr. Ngauv Bora from NCHADS, Cambodia, presented Cambodia’s priorities to get to Global targets, HIV ST implementation results, challenges, and next steps. Also, he said, their objective is to establish policy and procedures around HIVST rollout and implementation to create more HIV testing options in Cambodia to ensure to reduce barriers to accessing HIV testing for anyone at risk for HIV. 

“Some of the latest WHO evidence shows that a variety of distribution models have been seen to be successful across populations. Online and mail distribution has also increased in uptake of testing, which reaches key populations more than double as compared to standard testing services. It also doubled positivity among key populations, no difference was found in linkage to care.”

Purvi Shah, UNAIDS RST AP, and WHO HQ

Taking the spotlight next, Purvi Shah, UNAIDS RST AP, and WHO HQ shared Global updates on HIVST. She opened her presentation with HIV testing approaches that the WHO recommended, which include facility-based, community-based, provider-assisted referral, HIV self-testing, and Social network-based approaches. Also, she talked about virtual interventions, an important self-care option that should be used to reach the unreached population or a broader population who are vulnerable and seeking online services. Shared examples about Vietnam where differentiated HIVST strategies are used/adopted (For example: HIVST kits are delivered through Grab in Vietnam). She ended her session by saying that Self testing is now the new normal and it is important to scale up to other regions. It is an important self-care option and should be made easily accessible to all Key population communities and their partners.

Next, APCOM team members opened the Jamboard session for the participant to add the challenges and recommendations in relation to accessing HIVST at the country level. Shared information can be seen in the Jamboard.

The next session was dedicated to the country partners to share their work and experiences around HIVST initiatives/ programme.

Speakers –

  1. Yusuf Nugroho, Spiritia Foundation, Indonesia
  2. Ms. Krittaporn Termvanich, Institute of HIV Research and Innovation, Thailand,
  3. Oudone Souphavanh, Loas,
  4. Kenny Yap, Malaysia AIDS Council, Malaysia, joined the session discussion.

The first speaker from Indonesia in this session talked about CBS (Community Based Screening) in Indonesia, highlighting CBS implementation study results. The second speaker from Thailand, shared the presentation about HIVST services, offered by Pribta Tangerine Clinic, transgender specific health center in Thailand, which adopts an ‘neutral approach to HIVST services’. The third speaker from Laos provided an overview about HIVST paid distribution cascade, highlighting one of the key achievements as this service reached both key population communities and the general population. The fourth and last speaker from Malaysia, talked about the Jomtest, a HIVST initiative piloted in Malaysia with a vision to free society from the negative impact of HIV/AIDS. 

Lastly, Midnight, the Executive Director of APCOM thanked all the speakers and participants and ended the session by giving the closing remarks.


Welcome & Introductions:
Overview of the session
Introduction of speakers    
Midnight from APCOM
Opening Remarks      Dr. Pimpanitta Saenyakul,
HIV Deputy Team Leader, Office of Public Health, USAID/RDMA  
Opening Remarks – Government  
Where they have product registration, policy, and implementation have shown results  
Dr. Ngauv Bora
Deputy Director of NCHADS Cambodia
What does the WHO Guideline say about HIV Testing Services and HIV Self-Testing, and other innovations? Purvi Shah
Regional Consultant UNAIDS RST AP and WHO HQ Innovative Testing and Virtual Interventions,
Country sharing session: Lessons learnt

Yusuf Nugroho, Spiritia Foundation, Indonesia    
Oudone Souphavanh, Epic Manager, Laos  
Kenny Yap, Country Liaison & Trainer, Malaysia AIDS Council, Malaysia
Ms. Krittaporn Termvanich,
Communications & Marketing Manager, Pribta Clinic, Institute of HIV Research and Innovation, Thailand    

Thank you to all speakers and CloseAPCOM

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