ASHM Report Back
Clinical posts from members and guests of the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) from various international medical and scientific conferences on HIV, AIDS, viral hepatitis, and sexual health.
HIV Response in PNG. Are key populations being reached?
Perhaps one of the more applicable talks to my experience in Timor was that given by Angela Kelly-hanku on challenges reaching key populations.
In PNG its the church groups who often provide the most stable centers to operate health interventions (different from in Timor), and these have been the platforms from which international health programs have carried out their work.
The talk highlighted just how difficult it is to define the 'key populations', in that many who present to these facilities do so as they want non-judgmental care, where they won't be labelled as MSM, FSW and so on. I do wonder if its similar to the situation in Timor, where the largest HIV clinic is run by a private NGO, as foreign staff (and possibly church groups) are less likely to know the patient and their family. But defining key population can be so much more difficult... An interesting chart revealed 20% of MSM in PNG didn't report being attracted to men, and 40% reported being attracted to both men and women. We may see a fairly similar pattern in Timor once again, where a high percentage of the MSM (>50%) also have female partners. This could be related to the horrendous level of stigma and discrimination against them.
However the ultimate answer to the question are we reaching the key populations was revealed towards the end of the presentation with confronting statistics revealing 60% of the MSM in PNG have never been tested, and 32% of the FSW have never been tested. So No is the answer.
I can't imagine Timor is any better with the horrendous supply chain issues encountered over the past year...