Busan, South Korea -- International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific is the largest HIV/AIDS forum in Asia and the Pacific Region and the second largest in the world. The 10th ICAAP -- provided the opportunities for greater regional collaboration, sharing of ideas among people infected and affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemics from across the region and provides regional and national organisations, governments and individual stakeholders with space to enhance their mutual contributions in the response to HIV/AIDS - was held in Busan, South Korea on August 26 - 30, 2011 carrying the theme "Diverse Voices, United Action." It was attended by about 2,500 people sixty-four countries.
Protest that took place amidst the ICAAP 10th in Busan, South Korea against the Free Trade Agreement between India and European Union which is feared to cause a strict limit of the world’s access to the only medication, anti-retroviral (ARV) that is currently saving millions of lives of the people living with HIV and AIDS, with European Union urging the developing countries to adopt the Intellectual Property Rights that will bind the countries to international court of justice.
(Titin Rejeki/ CWS Timor Leste)
Church World Service has been an active player in the HIV prevention effort and has been implementing various programs in collaboration with local partners in many areas of Indonesia and Timor Leste. In ICAAP 10th CWS had the opportunity to exchange information and knowledge on HIV prevention initiatives -- learning from others and sharing our success stories. CWS, represented by Titin Rejeki, CWS' HIV and Gender Advisor, delivered one poster and two oral presentations.
The poster displayed CWS' HIV prevention program in Timor Leste focusing on strengthening the role of faith-based community through focal point empowerment strategy. Trained-focal points are expected to be the leaders of HIV prevention-related activities in the community. CWS Timor Leste has been supporting the initiatives including through technical assistance. The strategy has been applied for over four years and has contributed to positive result - the rising demand for HIV/AIDS information session among faith-based community in the country. Having improved capacity and skill, the focal points can now organize HIV/AIDS information dissemination independently. The program has shown that the availability of correct information on HIV/AIDS in low epidemic population with a very strong religious background is a good entry to the effectiveness of HIV prevention efforts, starting from the elimination of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS or PLWHA, access to condom and also other issues.
Titin Rejeki, CWS' HIV and Gender Advisor, providing explaination about CWS HIV prevention program in Timor Leste displayed on the poster. Titin Rejeki had received scholarship from the ICAAP 10th committee to attend the congress and present the poster and two oral presentation.
(CWS Timor Leste)
On August 28th, Titin Rejeki delivered oral session on HIV prevention program for students of Islamic boarding school in Surakarta in the period of 2007 - 2008 -- a partnership program between CWS and Interaction Foundation. Lack of Islamic religious leaders involvement in HIV prevention in Surakarta with a majority of muslim population was the rationale of the program. There were many with incorrect perspective about HIV: only sinners will be contracted with HIV and people with HIV and AIDS should be alienated, as the consequences to the sin. The students who were expected to be the future leaders and role models in the community were trained and given correct information on HIV transmission and prevention. They were also equipped with Islamic perspective and discourses that support zero stigma and discrimination towards PLWHA, dissemination of HIV-related information, and HIV prevention including through condom use. This program has shown that in a community with strong religious background like Surakarta, an initative in responding to HIV/AIDS issues would likely be effective if it involves religious leaders.
Titin Rejeki is presenting CWS' HIV prevention activity targgeting minor refugees in urban setting
(CWS Timor Leste)
The last presentation was delivered on August 29th, 2011. CWS had the opportunity to share its experience in implementing HIV prevention program for young refugees. CWS as a humanitarian and refugee assistance agency has been implementing urban refugee program called Protecting Urban Refugees through Empowerment or PURE in Indonesia since 2008 with the support from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee or UNHCR. One of the activities carried out as part of HIV prevention initiatives in Indonesia is based on consideration of the vulnerability of young refugees to HIV transmission during the migration process in the country of origin, transit, and destination country. Therefore this activity targets mostly young refugees who are travelling alone or also known as unaccompanied minors. They are encouraged to actively participate in various HIV prevention activities. However, it faces many constraints and challenges such as language barrier, economic struggle and minors' lack of focus as most of them would focus more on how to get themselves resettled somewhere else like Australia. The role of interpreter becomes very crucial in this activity and giving only one topic that related to HIV/AIDS at a time is important to make sure that the minors understand.
"The opportunity in presenting CWS' experiences in implementing HIV prevention programs in both Indonesia and Timor Leste and to learn from the experiences of others as well as receiving latest news and new initiatives in HIV prevention efforts in the conference have been a huge benefit for me as well as CWS," said Titin Rejeki who always provided updates during the conference through CWS Indonesia's Twitter account.
Congress participants believed ICAAP as the confirmation, reminder and motivator to get closer to the "Get to Zero: zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths and definitely not zero action. Different programs and initiatives that all institutions and agencies have implemented are the diverse voices that will lead to united action aimed at the getting to zero. After many presentations,, lessons learned, beliefs and optimism, the conference was officially closed on August 30th and the participants returned to their countries.