Workshop on Sexual Health, ILGA Europe Conference, Warsaw, Thursday 2 November 2017
The workshop was well attended and with a high level of engagement and interest in participants.
I and Paata Sabelashvili of ECOM presented, and Sophie Aujean from ILGA Europe moderated.
I presented on how community-based models of sexual health, HIV testing and treatment/PrEP could have a positive impact on HIV incidence and community ownership of sexual health in ideal conditions and ran briefly through the AVAC model of Good Participatory Practice in biomedical prevention trials could also be adapted to fit the creation of community-based prevention and rollout programmes and initiatives.
Paata presented on the challenges involved in developing such models in countries that were transitioning from Global Fund funding and where homophobia and oppression of other key affected populations was part of a more general upsurge in anti-western feeling. He emphasised the key role of community educators, or having accurate data with presenting cases, and of building alliances with key sympathetic professionals.
We then had a panel in which other members of ECOM presented on other aspects of their work regionally. They showed a very interesting short video about the wok of the EJAF-funded “Friendly Doctors” initiative in Ukraine – see https://friendlydoctor.org/en/ .
Informally, Lisa Power spoke briefly about European HIV and Hepatitis Testing Week and handed round leaflets for it and Magda Ankiersztejn-Bartczak spoke briefly about testing initiatives in Poland. We perhaps overloaded is a little with talks so the Q&A session was not as long as Sophie and I would have liked, but there were some very informed and interested questions from the audience about setting up community testing, about the science of PrEP, about extending PrEP initiatives to sex workers, and about the U=U campaign.
One particularly interesting initiative at the conference was the provision of 1-2-1 “consultancies” by community experts and I provided some after the workshop. I spoke to two people working with transgender sex workers in Novosibirsk and Ankara and to a couple of Polish gay club promoters who wanted to promote PrEP in Krakow.
I noticed also that questions about working with sex workers, PrEP, testing and U=U were asked in the following Friday morning plenary, which included Lisa as a panelist.
I would say that it was by far the most constructive ILGA conference I have attended in terms of a fresh understanding about how sexual heath work is part of their human rights remit, and a very positive collaboration.