Chief Executive’s Message

Hong Kong AIDS Foundation has a history of 29 years. Right from the start, the Foundation was born with the mission of limiting the spread of HIV infection in the community through the provision of the VCT service and HIV/AIDS and sexual health education. In addition, we have been providing support to those affected by HIV/AIDS. We have been striving to help Hong Kong maintain a low HIV prevalence and mainland China accelerate its response to HIV/AIDS. Over the years, what has made us different from others included our work with counterparts at regional and international levels in the global fight against the AIDS epidemic.

AIDS remains an incurable disease. HIV/AIDS has resulted in estimated 33 million deaths and globally 38 million people are still living with the virus.

Since 1984, the accumulated number of HIV infections in Hong Kong has finally hit the threshold of 10,000 (the cumulative number of reported cases was 10,550 as at the end of June). But Hong Kong is still considered a region of low HIV prevalence.

REPORTED CASES OF NEW HIV INFECTIONS

2019 2020
1 Q (Jan – Mar) 2 Q (Apr – Jun) 3 Q (Jul – Sept) 4 Q (Oct – Dec) 1 Q (Jan – Mar) 2 Q (Apr – Jun)
HIV HIV Total
146 137 152 130 129 141 835
AIDS AIDS Total
22 33 24 43 22 36 180

 

Not only the provision of effective service for young, mature and ageing PLHIV, but also how can we stay competitive among others and how can we provide something innovative for our service groups in line with the ever-changing situation of HIV as well as how can we maintain our quality service, how can we stay creative/flexible when amid social unrest AND COVID-19.

Let us first join together to say a big “Thank You” to all of the following people in a joint effort in expressing our genuine gratitude:

  1. Our all major sponsors
  2. Our dedicated staff members and all of our committed volunteers in different capacities; and
  3. Our Members of the Advisory Board, Executive Board, Service Committee, Investment Committee and Education Committee who are bringing the Foundation valuable insights with their wealth of experience in their various professional backgrounds, and social services.

Our work could never be successful without great support. Without their generosity and participation, the Foundation would not have been able to build up our momentum to fight against HIV/AIDS.

HIGHLIGHTS OF OUR WORK (2019)

  1. INTRODUCTION

Projects in the local community:

  • “Man-d Project” – a two-year project consisting of an HIV Preventive and Sexual Health Programme for Men who Have Sex with Men (MSM)
  • “High-risk Groups” – a two-year project to achieve a user-friendly voluntary HIV Testing and Counselling Service as well as an Education Service for People with High-risk Behaviors i.e. Male Clients of Female Sex Workers and People with High-risk Behaviours
  • “Peer Power” – a two-year project consisting of an HIV Prevention and Sexual Health Programme for Ethnic Minorities
  • Empowerment and Support Services for People Living with HIV – a two year project to empower PLHIV and help them maintain good sexual health, conducive to resuming quality lives and achieving effective HIV prevention
  1. HIV PREVENTIVE & SEXUAL HEALTH PROGRAMME FOR MSM

For the year of 2019, the Foundation was not only able to launch the above-mentioned programmes to encourage every MSM community to sustain a safe lifestyle with regular HIV tests and safer sex adoption, but we were also able to pilot the HIV self-testing scheme targeting Young MSM groups. This was such a breakthrough after we had lobbied the Department of Health for years.

  1. “PEER POWER” – HIV PREVENTION AND SEXUAL HEALTH PROGRAMME FOR ETHNIC MINORITIES (少數族裔)

This project aimed 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 reason why we secured the funding from the Council for the AIDS Trust Fund was due to our extensive experience in implementing HIV services to EM in the past few years as a pilot project.  The ATF praised the Foundation on its successful reaching out to a “significant quantity of EM clients” and many of them were sexually active yet lacked enough HIV/STD prevention knowledge.

The key of this project was that the Foundation had to cooperate with various EM-related organisations.  

  1. HIGH-RISK GROUPS” – A 2-YEAR PROJECT TO ACHIEVE A USER-FRIENDLY VOLUNTARY HIV TESTING AND COUNSELLING SERVICE AS WELL AS EDUCATION SERVICE FOR PEOPLE WITH HIGH-RISK BEHAVIORS

After not being officially supported by ATF funding for two years in a row, starting in 2019, we secured the funding again for this project and this programme was able to run for more than a year. Please also note that the title of this project was changed from “Female sex workers and their male clients with other high-risk groups” to “High-risk Groups”. The reasons behind this were first to simply make the project more focused on the areas for non-MSM groups with high-risk sexual behaviour; second, “High-risk populations” has become a more neutral, widely acceptable theme than “sex workers and clients” nowadays. Third and most importantly, we have included young heterosexual people in this project; a group which, though equally vulnerable to the virus, has not seen government funding to support them. Of all age groups, those aged between 20-29 accounted for one of the greatest proportions of reported HIV infections in 2019.  More resources should be allocated to promote sex education to provide proper counselling to adolescents about safe sex.

Through the provision of a user-friendly, easily accessible, free, confidential and anonymous, center-based and outreach HIV counselling and testing service, this project aimed to serve ‘hidden’ populations with high-risk behavior and suspicion of HIV infection. Target groups in this project: young heterosexual adults, male members of ethnic minorities, female sex workers (FSW) and their male clients (MCFSW). Services included VCT services (counselling and blood test), public education talks, Internet intervention and outreach services. Regrettably, HIV self-test kits were not able to be distributed among these hidden groups as there is no ATF funding to support it.

  1. EMPOWERMENT AND SAFER SEX EDUCATION FOR PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV (PLHIV)

This project aimed to empower PLHIV; equip them with the skills to face and tackle their daily problems, especially those closely related with 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.

In short, we wanted PLHIV to:
1. cope with their chronic illness
2. encourage drug adherence
3. increase sexual health awareness
4. build up social support among others (i.e. our staff/volunteer when conducting home visits and escort services
5. create an inclusive community to enhance life satisfaction and well-being of PLHIV

In November 2019, the Foundation was appointed as one of the grantees for the 2020-2021 Rainbow Grant by Gilead Sciences Inc., amid intense competition from some 140 NGOs across the Asian region.Our project to be funded is “A Community Outreach Service for People Living with HIV to achieve their 4th 90s”. The grant will cover a few areas including a one-year rental fee of an additional outreach center and specialist fees (i.e. nutritionist, physiotherapist, etc.).

  1. OTHERS (non-ATF Funded)

Public Education:
Due to the widespread social unrest resulting from the proposed extradition bill and the further issues caused by the sudden outbreak of COVID-19 since January 2020, our HIV/sexual health activities could not be conducted as many University campuses had been damaged. Alternatively, we conducted the education booths and HIV prevention education at our outreach center for members of the public who came for an HIV test.  And regarding the distribution of self-test kits funded by the ATF strictly for young MSM, we have been distributing them at our outreach center as well.

Publicity:
In late-2018, we invited the popular independent film actor Mr. Lo Chun Yip (Also the Actor in a Supporting Role nominee for the 39th Hong Kong Film Awards) and hipster icon Miss Angel Lam Ting to be the leading actor and actress in the Foundation’s brand new TV Announcements in the Public Interest (API) with the theme “Love with Sextitude”. The TV APIs started to broadcast from December 2018 onwards through various media channels, including local TV stations, website, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube channel of the Foundation. The key message of the API was simply that people living with HIV are still able to have intimate relationships with partners as long as their own “Undetectable = Untransmittable” level can be reached with HAART treatment.

Fundraising:
In December 2018, the Foundation was chosen as one of the recipients of the 1st Gilead’s Asia Rainbow Grant (the Grant) to financially support our programme, namely the “Run for Breaking Barriers: Erase the Stigma of HIV/AIDS”. The charity run, “Run for Breaking Barriers: Erase the Stigma of HIV/AIDS” was held in the last quarter of 2019 to raise public awareness of HIV/AIDS.

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Huge kudos also to GSK, M.A.C. AIDS Fund and BEAUSKIN Medical Group for other types of solid support.

Last but definitely not least, a huge thanks to Sa Sa International Holdings Limited for allowing the Foundation’s donation boxes to be placed in their stores.

  1. WORK IN THE MAINLAND, AT THE REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL LEVEL

Just prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the implementation of travel restrictions, The Foundation was invited to co-organize and co-host the 5th AIDS Forum of Beijing, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan in April 2019 as well. The main theme of the Forum was “Multi-pronged Strategy in HIV/AID Prevention and Cure; Collaborative Efforts in Empowerment”.

We also attended the 6th National Conference on HIV/AIDS in October 2019 and our Executive Chairman, Dr. LEONG Che-hung was invited as one of the Key Note Speakers.

However, as the pandemic, which broke out in early-2020, is still unresolved, our frontline work in the Mainland has had to be suspended for a while. We have to wait until the coronavirus situation improves or a vaccine becomes available to fully resume our cooperation with our counterparts in the Mainland.

LOOKING AHEAD

The Foundation will continue to 1) help HK maintain low HIV prevalence; 2) assist China in accelerating its response to HIV/AIDS; 3) join global forces to fight against the AIDS epidemic. Since 2014, the Foundation has been joining with the world towards the 90-90-90 established by UNAIDS: 90% of people living with HIV will know their HIV status by 2020, 90% of people who know their HIV-positive status will be on treatment, and 90% of people on treatment will have a suppressed viral load.  To truly meet the needs of people living with HIV, we must also pursue a fourth “90”, where 90% of people living with HIV can have a good health-related quality of life.

Lastly, to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030, remains the Foundation’s ultimate objective.

THANK YOU!

 

 

 

ENG

 

 

 

Eris, S.S. Lau
Chief Executive

 

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