In December 2010, over 80 delegates from diverse backgrounds and languages converged in Singapore to attend the first Developed Asia Regional Consultation on HIV in MSM and TG. This meeting brought together community organisations, researchers, academics and government public health officials from places described as the “developed economies” of Asia. The economic status of Hong Kong/Macau, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, means that the expectation to respond to HIV falls solely on governments as access to international technical assistance and development funding is limited. The situation is confounded by the fact that MSM and TG in Developed Asia face the same institutional discrimination as in other countries, resulting in underfunding of programs targeting these key
The consultation was joined by delegates from China, Malaysia and Thailand, as well as representatives from the regional UN-family, reflecting the geographical scope of the HIV epidemic among MSM and TG.
The purpose of this consultation was to begin the road towards improved cooperation within Developed Asia with the view that increased collaboration will result in more effective HIV prevention programs and improved quality of care, treatment and support for MSN and TG. Issues around advocacy for more enabling environments, strengthening community-led systems and programs, improving evidence-based sexual health promotion campaigns and ensuring a comprehensive continuum of care for those living with HIV as well as those most at risk of HIV and STI infection, especially young MSM and TG, were discussed over the twoday event.
"This is a landmark event for the region. There is currently no dedicated information and discussion platform that joins communities and researchers in developed Asian countries and territories. There are similar HIV epidemics across Developed Asia, especially in MSM communities. These communities share common challenges that have led to increasing HIV infections, and have similar ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Programmes targeting MSM communities are still under-resourced," said Professor Roy Chan, President of Action for AIDS (Singapore) and Co-Chair of the conference.
Prevalence of HIV among MSM and TG is on the rise in most developed Asian countries and territories,1 with rates soaring significantly higher than that of the general population as is the case in Korea (55 times), Japan (44 times) and Taiwan (210 times, 2004 figures). In China MSM HIV prevalence is 88-times higher than the national rate.
However of the countries and territories included in Developed Asia, only Singapore and Hong Kong governments have strategic plans which include MSM/TG. Japan has included MSM as a specific target group in HIV related health policy, and MSM research and community centers are funded by the Ministry of Health.2
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