A Closer Look at HIV Services for MSM
Two critical factors studied
This year, WHO recommends looking at two of the critical factors affecting the changing epidemic scenario. These are availability and access to existing health services for MSM. An “In-depth analysis of existing service delivery models on HIV services for MSM” was done in areas that recorded the highest HIV cases among MSM. A consultant with expertise on MSM programming assisted the DOH’s National AIDS STI Prevention and Control Programme (NASPCP) and the National Epidemiology Center (NEC). The study was conducted from 24 June to 6 July 2012.
The study also looked at the pressing issue of defining the target population. In the Philippine context, who are the MSM? Who are the transgender people? These are critical questions that have to be clarified to identify the programmes that will be sustained, put in place or change.
The City Health Officers, Social Hygiene Clinic Physicians, Civil Society Organizations, City Health Planning Officer and Outreach Workers/Peer Educators are the study’s key informants.
After the in-depth analysis, the study results were presented to key stakeholders on 6 July 2012. One of the key findings is that there is a variety of HIV Counseling and Testing (HCT) Models in the Philippines. This diversity serves also as a strength of the Philippine response. Since there is no single perfect model for delivering HCT, no models should be abandoned. The real question now, which of the models has the greatest potential for future expansion?
The official findings and recommendations will be officially submitted to the Secretary of Health by the WHO Representative in the Philippines. The time to act is now! There is a need to ensure high quality HCT services; design a simple pathway for patient to get tested and get result; provide informative pre-test counseling, as well as, supportive post-test counseling; and ensure strong linkage to treatment. Moreover, services need to be MSM-friendly, meaning, there are MSM peer educators and counselors in the facilities, and the clinics operate with flexible opening hours.
Training on HIV Services for MSM and Transgender People
WHO, in partnership with UNDP, the lead UN agency on HIV prevention among MSM, supported the DOH in training the first batch of heath service providers on HIV services for MSM and Transgender People. The training was held from 10 to 12 July 2012 in Tagaytay City. A total of 22 service providers from the City Health Office, SHC, CSO, Government and Private hospitals in Metro Manila participated in this first batch of training.
The experiences shared by the training participants are:
- training was timely;
- venue was conducive for interactive learning;
- resource persons are subject matter experts; utilizing different learning modalities
- participants' mix, a balanced representation from programme planners, implementers, direct service providers, and from the MSM community;
- interactive session was appreciated; and
- responsive to needs of MSM, but needs to strengthen component on delivering services for transgender people.
The experiences were shared in the Regional Meeting among Experts on 17 to 19 July 2012, in Bangkok, Thailand.