We, representatives of the ministries in charge of health, HIV/AIDS and women’s rights and gender equality, and civil society organisations from Brunei Darussalam,Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam, as well as UN Women, UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNESCO,UNDP, and the ASEAN Secretariat participated in the Consultative Meeting on HIV and Key Affected Women and Girls: Reducing Intimate Partner Transmission of HIV within ASEAN held on 24-25 September 2012 in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR.
The Consultative Meeting aimed to (a) enhance and intensify cooperation between the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) and the ASEAN Task Force on AIDS (ATFOA), as well as other partners at the regional and country level, to work towards an ASEAN with zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths by addressing the needs and rights of key affected women and girls; (b) build understanding of and advocate for greater governmental support and commitment to reducing intimate partner transmission of HIV and addressing the needs and rights of key affected women and girls in the context of the ASEAN Declaration of Commitment: Getting to Zero New HIV Infections, Zero Discrimination, Zero AIDS-Related Deaths; and (c) support national and regional efforts to strengthen and share data collection and analysis on key affected women and girls, including intimate partner transmission of HIV, and to develop a network for the exchange of good practices and programmatic innovations in addressing intimate partner transmission of HIV.
We shared information and exchanged views on, among others, global and regional commitments of ASEAN Member States on halting and reversing the spread of HIV, women’s rights and gender equality, current situation and needs regarding HIV and AIDS in ASEAN, as well as good practices and challenges of ASEAN Member States in addressing intimate partner transmission of HIV in concentrated epidemics.
We agreed on the need to strengthen cooperation amongst ASEAN Member States towards reduced intimate partner transmission of HIV, especially among key affected women and girls, in the region through the following recommended actions which aim to implement Articles 19(c) and 17(b) of the ASEAN Declaration of Commitment: Getting to Zero New HIV Infections, Zero Discrimination, Zero AIDS-Related Deaths that was adopted at the 19th ASEAN Summit held in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2011:
1. Review the existing laws, regulations, policies, programmes and practices of ASEAN Member States that address the rights of women, girls and youth affected by HIV and AIDS within a broader framework of human rights with a view of creating an enabling environment including repealing punitive laws and strengthening laws that adhere to informed consent, confidentiality in pre and post-test counseling, and proper referrals to treatment, care and support services;
2. Promote better awareness and understanding of the relevant line agencies, including the police and legal departments, to have non-judgmental gender transformative laws, policies and programmes addressing the needs of key affected women and girls with the support of the national women machineries and Ministry of Health;
3. Promote inter-sectoral dialogues, information sharing, collaboration and coordination among the relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies, such as the ACW, ATFOA, Senior Labour Officials Meeting’s Working Group on HIV Prevention and Control in the Workplace (SLOM-WG-HIV), ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Drug Matters (ASOD), ASEEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), to promote holistic approach in addressing the issues concerning key affected women and girls. In this regard, the existing consultative meetings of ATFOA and ACW, ATFOA and SLOM-WGHIV, and ATFOA and ASOD are recommended to continue and be strengthened;
4. Promote a participatory approach in formulating, implementing, monitoring and evaluating regional programmes and initiatives of ASEAN concerning key affected women and girls or HIV and AIDS through meaningful engagement of key civil society organisations (CSOs) and community organisations that are working with and representing the voice of key affected women and girls in ASEAN Member States. In this regard, the following next steps were recommended:
a. Representatives of key CSOs and community organisations could be invited to the open session of the 21st ATFOA Meeting in Malaysia in 2013, and to HIV-related activities of the ACW;
b. ACW and ATFOA Focal Points to map out those key CSOs and community organisations in ASEAN Member States for representation at regional level by taking into account the possible mechanism of stakeholder mapping prescribed in the draft Guideline for A Rapid City/Area Assessment and Planning Tool.
5. Deepen gender analysis of ASEAN programmes, projects, indicators and data concerning the situation and prevention of intimate partner transmission of HIV among women and girls through the sharing of ATFOA’s relevant documents with ACW for inputs from gender perspective. In parallel, it is also recommended that ATFOA Focal Points could be invited to participate in the Regional Gender Training on Social Protection and Gender Budgeting and Analysis for ASEAN Member States which is planned under the ACW Work Plan 2011-2015.
6. Include key affected women and girls and prevention of parent-to-child and intimate partner transmission of HIV in the project situation assessment and implementation plan in the draft Guideline for A Rapid City/Area Assessment and Planning Tool under the ASEAN Cities Getting to Zero Project in order to meet the sexual and reproductive health needs and rights of key affected women and girls.
7. Strengthen ASEAN policies and programmes by investing in women’s and girls’ empowerment, leadership, and by including comprehensive sexuality education for young people in and out of school. In this relation, the capacity and
understanding of health care providers and social workers about sexual reproductive health rights in ASEAN Member States should also be enhanced for meaningful impact of their work to key affected women and girls.
8. Promote greater male involvement in ASEAN programmes to prevent HIV transmission and address stigma and discrimination. In this regard, we encourage the use of youth-friendly services in ASEAN Member States including youth centre/camps and social media. We also support the convening of the ASEAN Regional Conference with Male, Youth, and HIV & AIDS Networks towards the Prevention of Gender-based Violence which is an activity under the ACW Work Plan 2011-2015 that is scheduled for 15-16 November 2012 in Manila, the Philippines. It is recommended that the Conference would involve the participation of ATFOA Focal Points and key CSOs that are working with and representing the voice of key affected women and girls in ASEAN Member States.
For the purpose of this recommendation, we recommend that key affected women and girls include: women and girls living with HIV, female sex workers, women and girls who use drugs, transgender women and girls, mobile and immigrant women, female prisoners, women with disabilities, women in serodiscordant relationships as well as intimate female partners of men who engage in behaviours that put them at a higher risk of HIV infection.
We encourage the ACW and ATFOA to consider these recommendations and closely collaborate in bringing these into actions with adequate financial support from ASEAN Member States. We also encourage closer partnerships and support from the relevant UN Agencies to the ACW and ATFOA in following up these recommendations.