From February 23 to 24, 2023, APN+ held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Strategic Planning. This event is conducted biannually. At the Strategic Planning, country members discussed several things, including advocacy priorities of the network and ways to improve the networks communication, strengthen the network and the Secretariat, and strengthen leadership within the network.
Related to the discussion about strengthening leadership within the network, Ikka Noviyanti, the regional coordinator of YouthLEAD, presented the work of her organization. YouthLEAD is a network of young key population organizations in the Asia-Pacific. It focuses on YouthLEAD focuses on capacity building and advocacy to have an enabling environment for young key populations in the region, including young PLHIV. Ikka said that young people are often regarded as beneficiaries rather than partners in the HIV response. NGOs and CBOs are usually managed by adults who treat young people as tokenism, only inviting them to meetings to get their perspective on issues. In addition, there is a lack of information about young PLHIV and young key populations despite the growing HIV infection in younger population. Ikka encouraged network members to involve young people in decision-making (i.e., project design and implementation, monitoring and evaluation, fund-raising, etc.). She suggested for network members to increase their conversation with young people (preferably once in two months) to better understand how they can better involve young people in their organizations.
To help develop the advocacy priorities of the network, Dr. Ye Yu Shwe of UNAIDS Regional Support Team (RST) presented the UNAIDS Strategy and targets as well as country performance in Asia-Pacific. He presented graphs, charts and statistics to show how countries in Asia-Pacific are behind targets. Country members responded to the presentation and highlighted several issues, including capacitating community-based health systems, implementing community-led monitoring (CLM), advocating for the greater involvement of people living with HIV/AIDS (GIPA) principles, and advocating to eliminate stigma and discrimination (S&D). Country members also identified advocacy areas related to prevention and treatment, such as undetectable equals un-transmittable (U=U), pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), advanced HIV diseases (AHD), vertical transmission, link to HIV care issues, and HIV care retention issues such as loss to follow-up).
An exercise was conducted in which network members were divided into two groups and the groups discussed topics under the five strategies of 2017-2021 (advocacy, network strengthening, communication, leadership, Secretariat capacity building). The results from the group discussion is now the basis for developing APN+ Strategy for 2023-2027. The Strategic Planning was facilitated by Sarah Zaidi who is also developing the APN+ Strategy. The AGM was participated by national people living with HIV (PLHIV) network organizations and country focal persons from 17 countries. A total of 19 participated at the AGM.
APN+ Strategy for 2023-2027 will be out in public by April 2023.