An interview with Midnight Poonkasetwattana, Executive Director at the Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM)

What can people living with HIV and communities do to support the scale up of differentiated care across the HIV cascade?

The best thing people can do is mobilize to discuss what is lacking and what needs to be improved in the care system, as well as demand these services. Services must be easy to access, simple to understand and serve the needs, wishes and preferences of people living with HIV. The client has to be the centre of any approach in healthcare, although that often seems to not be the case, especially not for the communities we work with and for in many countries in our region. 

What improvements to the delivery of HIV care would you like to see for key populations living with HIV?

Within the health care system there are many issues that can be improved, and one that I would really like to see is recognition and scale up of client-managed group models run by the community living with HIV as being integral to a strong health system. 

What improvements to the delivery of HIV prevention would you like to see for key populations? Or what are some of the innovations around prevention that have made a difference?

There are many innovations that have also found their way to our region. Technical innovations in prevention but also PrEP as an additional prevention tool in the toolkit. However, the roll-out is slow, limited to small researches and not enthusiastically and widely supported in the countries in the region for a variety of reasons: economically, socially and culturally.  

How important are peers in differentiated care models for key populations, especially men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people?

Peers are of the utmost importance! The client-managed models mean for MSM and transgender people that they can get their treatment with peers and, more important, can discuss many other issues that could come up through the treatment or any questions that they may have. 

Can you tell us about how organizations, such as APCOM, can help advocate for differentiated care?

What we do and have been doing for the last 10 years at APCOM, with a considerable amount of community organizations from across the region, is to advocate for health care models that would serve the needs and interest of the communities we work for. The differentiated care models are a good step forward for us and a tool to bring the community members back into the heart of health care systems.

What do you want people to know about differentiated care in Asia and the Pacific?

I would like people to know that the time is right now for demanding client-centred and client-based services. We can get rid of the endless bureaucracies in our systems and improve health care for everyone in need.