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Meet the PLHIV Stigma Index Academy Participants from the Asia & Pacific region

31 March 2022
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Amit Mohite / India

Amit was diagnosed with HIV at the age of eight in 2002. Being an orphan and living as an HIV-positive person, he has faced many difficulties because of the stigma internalized by society – emotionally, financially, and socially. He never went to school but completed his study from distance learning from Azim Premji University, Bengaluru. He understood his condition, accepted his HIV status, and started working for people living with HIV. He started working with the local organization and State network in 2015 as an outreach worker. He completed his two-year Asian Community AIDS Treatment and Advocacy fellowship with Treat Asia, Thailand and he is a former youth member of the “Community Advisory Board” of the National AIDS Research Institute (NARI). He conducted research on ‘Youth living with HIV and their socio-educational growth’ and was invited by ViiV health care as a facilitator for the Spark19 Conference.

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Eva Dewa Masyitha / Indonesia

Eva Dewa Masyitha is working as an illustrator and graphic designer. She is a mother and woman living with HIV who currently lives in Yogyakarta, Indonesia; she has been part of the movement related to HIV-AIDS since 2019, is part of the Life Force Alumni and has contributed to the creation of the Stigma Book last year. The IPPI currently entrusts her as part of the HIV women community in Indonesia. At IPPI, she advocates to end gender-based violence against women and children living with HIV-AIDS. She is also involved in community-based organizations in the area where she lives.

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Edward Low / Malaysia

Edward Low is director of Positive Malaysian Treatment Access & Advocacy Group (MTAAG+). He completed his education at Chartered Institute of Marketing (C.I.M.), U.K., and was a former Sales Engineer. Currently, he is working full-time as an activist and advocate as a person living with HIV for 25 years has been empowered through international conferences. Since 1998, he has been actively volunteering to advocate for treatment, care, and support in the national patient groups. He is also a founding member of MTAAG+ since 2015, focusing on a right-based project like basic research on medicine, capacity building for the community, and campaigning access to public medicine. He was a Project Coordinator for the Malaysia Stigma Index study in collaboration with GNP+, UNAIDS and IPPF in 2010-2012.

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Fletcher Chiu / Taiwan

Fletcher started his engagement in HIV advocacy as the coordinator for Taiwan PLHIV Stigma Index research in 2017. He then participated in TREAT Asia’s program Youth ACATA – “Youth Asia Community for AIDS Treatment and Advocacy,” where he met other young people living with HIV and was empowered by receiving capacity building that strengthened participants’ knowledge of psycho-social, economic, cultural, and HIV issues about the lives of young people living with and affected by HIV. It was a two-year training, and he graduated from the program in 2019. Fletcher is now an HIV advocate of PRAA, in charge of communication and research. His focus on young people still sustains his commitment to Youth LEAD Asia Pacific and Y+ Global.

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Husen Muhamad / Indonesia

Husen Muhamad is 46 years old and has lived with HIV for 20 years with an injecting drug user background. In 2019, he completed a master’s program in Health Social Psychology at Atma Jaya Catholic University, Jakarta, Indonesia. Implementing the HIV/AIDS program in Indonesia, he has over 16 years of experience working on social issues and with NGOs, including on program development, planning, monitoring, and evaluation of programs in civil society, especially in groups of people with HIV and vulnerable key population communities. He has a particular interest in advocating for the problems of people with HIV/AIDS, including education, organizing, equal rights to health services, reducing stigma, and providing access to treatment for people with HIV based on human rights.

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Ikka Noviyanti / Indonesia

Ikka Noviyanti is the Advocacy Officer at Youth LEAD. Ikka has experience working with key population networks at national and regional level. As the Advocacy Officer, Ikka is responsible for representing Youth LEAD at various workshops, consultations, and forums to ensure the needs of YKPs. She also provides technical support to country-partnered organizations and ensures meaningful engagement of Youth LEAD’s focal points. She is currently part of the Developing Country NGO Delegation and represents YKP in Asia and the Pacific as a Youth Council in the Global Fund.

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Trang Pham Huyen / Vietnam

Trang is an activist with six years of experience working in youth NGOs, child-related fields, and gender equality and now works as a project officer for a network of people living in Vietnam (VNP+). Her main job is to advocate for policies to ensure the rights of people living with HIV and improve their understanding of their rights. She is a passionate community servant who can motivate and inspire individuals to identify their potential to continue and share this passion for serving others. With this ongoing quest to give, she has promoted significant, positive change in communities and individuals through advocacy, empowered by compassion. She takes pride in engaging in a civically based approach to community building as she is committed to a life-long service based on personal and professional experiences. Trang has been involved in the Stigma Index research as a project assistant and gained much knowledge through research activities, meeting many people with different backgrounds, and she heard their stories of discrimination and suicide, and felt hopeless; these were the proof and motivation for her to become a policy advocate for the rights of PLHIV and make recommendations to the government.

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Sara Thapa Magar / Nepal

Sara is a young activist from south Asia advocating for the needs and rights of children, young people, and women living with HIV. Sara is a board member of the International Community of Women living with HIV in Asia and Pacific (ICWAP) and President of the National Federation of women living with HIV and AIDS (NFWLHA) in Nepal. Sara has years of experience working in the community. Since her activism journey, Sara has been fighting for equal representation of women and girls in all sectors, a women-focused program, stigma, and discrimination-free right to health treatment. Sara possesses the heart of an activist and backs up her passion with experience in both governance and leadership. She is also currently co-leading the PLHIV Stigma Index implementation in Nepal.

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Sita Banjade / Nepal

Sita Banjade completed a bachelor’s degree in social science. She has over 16 years of experience working in HIV response in multiple positions. She has worked as a regional committee member on the regional consultation on stigma and discrimination 2017 in Bangkok and worked as an advisory committee member to WHO for SRHR. She was the lead person in Nepal for developing a positive protection toolkit in 2015 implemented in Nepal. She also contributed to developing the regional FEMLAMB training manual that she has facilitated for four countries, including stigma, discrimination, and human rights. Apart from that, she set questionnaires to assess WLHIV’s engagement in the Global Fund and recently developed questionnaires to evaluate the situation of WLHIV and GBV in Nepal, which is in the process of implementation.

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Thawdar Htun / Myanmar

Thawdar Htun is living with HIV and a former Chairperson of Myanmar Positive Group (National PLHIV Network). He was part of the first and second Stigma Index conducted in 2010 and 2015 in Myanmar. He has actively led and participated in the process of implementation design and consulted with the technical person and respective person of a government official and UNAIDS, and in the implementation process as collecting the data in the field. Myanmar is currently planning to conduct their 3rd Stigma Index study. According to the Community Feedback Mechanism led by community, human rights violation cases (social, workplace, healthcare-related) toward PLHIV and KP are generally increasing from Jan 2017 until Dec 2021. Because of COVID-19 and the unstable political situation of Myanmar, the reported cases are becoming increasing in Jul-Dec 2021 period. So, stigma and discrimination against PLHIV and KPs are still present in the community.

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Yasir Ali Khan / Pakistan

Yasir Ali Khan is involved in the struggle to recognize people living with HIV. He is working to improve awareness of HIV and treatment in Pakistan. He is actively working on the issues of substance use and dependence (chemsex issues) and harm reduction in Pakistan. As a PLHIV living in Pakistan for more than twelve years, he works openly as an HIV+ Pakistani chemsex activist and peer worker. He provides one-to-one care, support, and counseling for Pakistan’s gay, bisexual, MSM, and TG communities. The main objective is to raise the voice of PLHIV to reduce stigma and discrimination with useful, accurate information about HIV in the local language in Pakistan as a role model on the platform of HIV Buddies. He runs numerous support groups for HIV prevention, testing and treatment, for chemsex practitioners. The idea behind the support groups is to encourage people belonging to the PLHIV community to begin treatment and work to reduce the chances of transmission using antiretroviral treatment. He has been promoting the U=U campaign in Pakistan to help PLHIV understand that undetectable equals untransmittable.