(Bangkok) The Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM) has been a leader in mobilising attention and action to promote the health and human rights of men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people since 2007. Today, APCOM reaffirms its commitment to working with young MSM and transgender people by supporting the appointment of Bui Duy Tung as the Coordinator for Youth Voices Count (YVC) and by releasing its latest policy brief, “Addressing the Needs of Young Men Who Have Sex With Men.”
“We are pleased to support the appointment of Bui Duy Tung at YVC. He brings with him not only extensive experience of working with MSM and transgender people at the grassroots level, but also successful advocacy work in the Greater Mekong sub-region. We are very excited to welcome him on board,” said Midnight Poonkasetwattana, APCOM Executive Director.
YVC is an independent network of young MSM and transgender people, initiated with support from Hivos and the World AIDS Campaign (WAC) in 2010. It shares an office with APCOM in Bangkok; and APCOM will continue to provide technical support to the new coordinator as he settles in to his new role. Bui Duy Tung is from Vietnam and is expected to strengthen leadership and community mobilization skills among young MSM and transgender people in Asia and the Pacific region. He will also partner with youth-led and youth-serving networks and organizations to deliver on the YVC’s mission.
“I am honoured for this opportunity to voice the concerns of young MSM and transgender people in the region and hopefully make changes that we want to see happen. The wide spread of HIV infection among our peers represents a major concern that on-going HIV prevention efforts fail to reach the population at greatest risks of HIV infection. Worse, not even half of our peers access HIV testing or treatment due to existing legal and social barriers. YVC initiative is well placed to address these challenges in the years to come,” said Bui Duy Tung.
“Youth-led groups, such as YVC, are critical advocates for their peers – they provide links to services and in many cases are even service-providers. The appointment of Bui, with support from APCOM, will further strengthen the engagement of young MSM and transgender people in the region,” said Justine Sass, UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional AIDS Adviser and co-chair of the Asia-Pacific Inter-Agency Task Team on Young Key Affected Populations. “This is critical to our goal of zero new HIV infections, zero HIV-related deaths and zero stigma and discrimination.”
Today APCOM also releases its newest policy brief, supported by a grant from UNESCO, which presents evidence on the vulnerability of young MSM, particularly with regard to HIV/AIDS. It highlights the gaps in strategic information in the region, particularly for young transgender people. It encourages countries to strengthen health promotion programmes for high-risk youth, while ensuring appropriate services for those who are HIV-positive. The brief calls on countries to engage young MSM and transgender people in national AIDS response, and to review and challenge laws criminalising sex between men.
“The high and rising HIV prevalence among MSM and transgender people in the region requires early and sustained action,” added Midnight Poonkasetwattana. “The APCOM policy brief underscores the importance of health promotion programmes for young men who have sex with men, and the need to strengthen the capacity of young community leaders.”
Also read the policy brief: Download the policy brief here.