REGIONAL May 11, 2017

Connecting Asia: A Regional Consultation on ICT, HIV, MSM and Getting to the 90-90-90 Targets

14-16 June 2017, The Ballroom (38th floor) of Pullman Bangkok Hotel G, Thailand

Websites, social media and mobile apps are just some of the information and communication technologies (ICTs) which are changing the way we connect with each other.

Connecting Asia is a regional consultation to help Asia reach the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets by using ICT to improve the uptake of innovative approaches to HIV programmes for gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM).

The consultation is hosted by APCOM with support from the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) LINKAGES Project (managed by FHI360) and from UNAIDS.

Connecting Asia took place in Bangkok from 14 –16 June 2017 at the Ballroom (38th floor) of Pullman Bangkok Hotel G and has teamed up HIV workers from across Asia with leading experts from the ICT and HIV sectors. See below for more information about this groundbreaking event.

 

The Connecting Asia Conference has ended. Please find the report here.

 




Background

In Asia and the Pacific, HIV disproportionately affects men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM HIV infection rates are above 6% in Myanmar, Vietnam, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, reaching 13.7% in Mongolia. Several cities in the region, including Ho Chi Minh, Jakarta, and Kuala Lumpur top 15%. In Bangkok, almost one in four MSM is HIV-positive. The incidence of HIV among young MSM (under the age of 24) stands at 7.5% in Bangkok and is possibly higher in other major cities where infection rates are not as well documented.

For the AIDS epidemic to be brought under control by 2020 UNAIDS estimates that 90% of people living with HIV should know their HIV status, 90% of people with knowledge of their status should be on treatment, and 90% of those on treatment should have suppressed viral loads. UNAIDS sees innovations in service delivery and focused testing as key to reaching these 90-90-90 targets.

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What is ICT?

ICT stands for ‘information and communication technologies’ and refers to technologies that provide access to information through telecommunications. This includes the Internet, wireless networks, cell phones, and other communication mediums. Commonly used applications include websites, mobile apps, social media, email, messaging, and audio/video streaming

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HIV Programming for MSM in the ICT Age

In recent years, HIV programs have seen diminishing returns in lowering infection rates, especially among younger and more tech-savvy MSM who are typically less receptive to conventional sources of information. The innovative use of ICT can help close gaps in the continuum of HIV prevention, care and treatment.

ICT also holds great promise in advancing advocacy and programming at relatively low cost. A number of internet companies, especially mobile dating applications, already support health initiatives and HIV care. Increasingly, they have the capacity to target users at higher risk of infection and refer them to HIV service providers. Private sector initiatives like these need technical support and forums where best practices can be shared. State-run HIV programs meanwhile need forums that foster closer collaboration with the private sector, and guidance around ICT policies that can aid in the testing and treatment of MSM with HIV.

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Objectives

APCOM in partnership with PEPFAR under the USAID LINKAGES Project (implemented by FHI 360) and UNAIDS is hosting a regional consultation on effective and innovative community-led ICT strategies that can help countries in the region reach the UNAIDS targets.

Over the course of 2.5 days, the Consultation discussed the use of ICT by various regional entities working on the 90-90-90 targets. The consultation facilitated investments in initiatives led and owned by community-based organizations. The focus will be on innovative technologies that have shown tangible results.

The specific objectives of the consultation are as follows:

  1. Explore how ICT can be used to further reach MSM communities;
  2. Identify best-in-class ICT tools that are being used regionally and globally in HIV prevention, testing and treatment; and
  3. Map the ICT interventions that can be designed and deployed in the short and medium term to meet UNAIDS targets by 2020.

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Outcomes

The specific outcomes of the consultation, which will be released soon, are as follows:

  • A consultation report detailing case studies and best practices in the use of ICT toward meeting UNAIDS targets;
  • An ICT action plan for national policies and programs, developed by country partners;
  • A roadmap for ICT capacity building based on needs identified during the consultation.

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Press Release

You can read the press release of Connecting Asia here.

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Agenda

You can view the agenda here or download it as a PDF file here.

Please note that the agenda and the list of speakers are subject to change.

 

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Photo Album

The pictures from the Consultation can be seen from the “Connecting Asia” photo albums on our Facebook page.

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Resources

You can find all the presentations and documents of #ConnectingAsia here. The content contained in these slides/presentations are the work of the respective author and standard copyright resides with the author. Standard referencing of any of this content used in other presentations is a condition of use. The content of the slides/presentations APCOM is not necessarily endorsed by APCOM or its partner organizations, and any opinions expressed are those of authors alone and not necessarily shared by APCOM or its partner organizations.

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