A great concern of many public health professionals is the large numbers of men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people in Asia not accessing HIV testing and counselling (HTC). Even with such great concerns, there is very little real data that exists adequately measuring the scale of this problem, or the reasons behind it.
In order to better understand why MSM and transgender people are not accessing these vital health services, the Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM) is joining other regional development and community partners to convene a consultation on “Regional Meeting on Community-based HIV testing: Challenges and Opportunities” this October in Bangkok, Thailand. Having such information would greatly increase future efforts at regional and country level to ensure that community demand for HIV testing is created, alongside new testing delivery models that will better address community needs. “It is important that community voices are heard, they have to be central in creating demand and improving the take-up for these vital services and it is hoped this event will provide real insights into how this can be achieved,” said Midnight Poonkasetwattana, executive director of APCOM.
Concerns over poor coverage, access and supportive environments, held by a number of community members, will be high priority for the many community-based organisations attending the consultation.