Chief Executive’s Message

The past year was a year full of extreme difficulties for everyone in Hong Kong, mainly due to the tense political ambience and gloomy economic outlook. Despite these diffculties, HKSAR has still managed to make some valuable progress in the realm of HIV prevention:

From 2016 to 2018, the number of new HIV cases reported each year has been on a downward trend. However, the rate is not dropping as substantially as we would like and we can do more to further this decline.

Though the number of new infection cases exhibiting a downward trend is certainly a good sign, the cause of new HIV infections is more worrisome. Sexual contact, in particular homosexual or bisexual, remains the major mode of HIV transmission. In Mainland China, where there are currently an estimated 923,000 – 123,000 people living with HIV (PLHIV), historically, HIV spread rapidly as a result of infected blood transfusions. However, the vast majority of new cases are now transmitted through sex, marking a troubling change from the past.

The key to dealing directly with the cause of infection is our persistence in conducting public education through innovative workshops and talks to various stakeholders, across different ages and walks of lives. In early 2019, thanks to the financial support from the Council of the AIDS Trust Fund (ATF), we were able to launch four programmes which will span from May 2019 – April 2021 for di­fferent target groups.

1. Empowerment and Support Services for People Living with HIV (PLHIV)

This project aims to empower and equip PLHIV with the skills to face and tackle their daily problems, especially those closely related to their positive status; maintain safer sex practices; enhance the quality of their lives and involve them in HIV prevention so as to prevent secondary infection and foster the development of a caring, supportive and inclusive social environment.

2. HIV Prevention and Sexual Health Programme for Men who have sex with Men (MSM)

This project aims to curb the spread of HIV among the MSM community by implementing a series of sexual health programmes on HIV prevention education and regular HIV testing. The targets of our HIV education include a number of subgroups in the community, such as Young MSM (YMSM), Mature MSM (MMSM) and General (GMSM).

According to the Center for Health Protection, in a total of 624 HIV cases reported (2018), 58% of the total cases involved homosexual or bisexual contact. According to an exclusive study by the Special Preventive Programme of the Department of Health (April to September 2017), the overall HIV prevalence for sexually active MSM was estimated to be 6.54%. The MSM population has been accorded the highest priority for HIV prevention and we do not see this trend reversing any time soon.

3. High-risk Groups (HRG) (aka: Groups at-risk except MSM)

Of all age groups, those aged between 20-29 accounted for the greatest proportion of reported HIV infections in 2018 – 2019. More resources should be allocated to promote sex education to provide proper counselling to adolescents about safe sex. Via this funded programme, we are implanting a concept in the minds of young people that they should protect themselves through using condoms and taking regular HIV tests.

In addition, this project also aims to serve other ‘hidden’ populations with high-risk behaviour and suspicion of HIV infection such as male members of ethnic minorities, female sex workers (FSW) as well as their male clients (MCFSW). Public VCT services, public education talks, internet intervention and outreach services are the main elements to service them.

4. “Peer Power” – HIV Prevention and Sexual Health Programme for Ethnic Minorities

This project aims to curb the spread of HIV particularly among the female members of ethnic minorities (EM) by implementing a series of sexual health programmes on HIV prevention education. The Foundation promotes HIV prevention and cooperates with various EM-related organisations as well.

CHALLENGES AHEAD

Projects supported by the ATF and the work and activities funded by the Foundation are closely monitored to ensure successful achievement of the set goals in terms of quantity and quality.

The Foundation will still actively seek roles in the HIV self-test and PrEP services in the near future. Especially in relation to the HIV self-test issues, the Foundation will implement di­fferent strategies to ensure that we will be able to off­er help to those people who have taken the HIV self-test at home, for instance, our active role in providing psychological support for those taking the self-test.

ATF’s ever-changing policies, the launch of the HIV/AIDS self-testing projects, the recommended HIV/AIDS strategies for Hong Kong (2017-2021), the availability of funding, the right talents to work for the Foundation, as well as our rapport with major sponsors will have far-reaching implications for the work of the Foundation in the years ahead.

Our expansion of services for EM, PLHIV as well as heterosexual populations, needs extra and continuous funding from such giant bodies other than the ATF. At the same time, the Foundation has to ensure that frontline sta­ff members will be sufficient in capacity according to the policies of the ATF.

Like the practice in previous years, I would like to make a quote to wrap up my remarks. This year, I have chosen one by Rumi: “Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames.”

With passion and hope, we can soldier on. However, we also need more comrades to join the fight. The Foundation will work even harder until there are no more cases of HIV infection in our society.

 

ENG

 

 

 

Eris, S.S. Lau
Chief Executive

 

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