September 23, 2020—the Institute of HIV and Research Innovation (IHRI) in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) LINKAGES Thailand Project managed by FHI 360, Thailand MOPH-US CDC Collaboration (TUC), Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and UNAIDS Asia-Pacific Office held a launch event for PrEP in the City campaign which is the first PrEP campaign for transgender women in Thailand and South-East Asia. The campaign aims to raise awareness and to increase uptake of PrEP among Thai transgender women, which is a part of Thailand’s National Strategy to End AIDS among this vulnerable population. The campaign also hopes to empower transgender women to take control of their health, as well as to destigmatize transgender identity and ultimately to increase transgender visibility in society.
Professor Emeritus Dr. Praphan Phanuphak, Senior Research and Policy Advocacy Advisor at IHRI, noted that in his 30 years of combatting HIV, this is considered the largest PrEP campaign targeting transgender women. He hoped that the campaign will become the first of many more awareness campaigns to come. Rena Janamnuaysook, Program Manager for Transgender Health of IHRI, highlighted that although PrEP had been introduced in the National Guidelines on HIV/AIDS Diagnosis and Treatment five years ago, the current PrEP uptake among Thai transgender women is only at 5%. The low uptake is due to limited knowledge and awareness of PrEP. This campaign will be the key in empowering transgender women to take charge of their sexual health.
At the event, Dr. Satit Pitutecha, Deputy Minister of Public Health, Ministry of Public Health, committed to working in partnership with communities and civil society to promote access to HIV and other health services for transgender people. Dr. Preecha Prempree, Deputy Director General, Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health shared his strong belief that raising PrEP awareness among transgender women would push us closer to ending the HIV epidemic by 2030.
Dr. Steven G. Olive, Mission Director of USAID/RDMA noted that communities had made an invaluable contribution to the AIDS response and applauded Thailand for its strong commitment in engaging the transgender community to resolve health disparities and end the HIV epidemic in Thailand.
Ms. Thanwarin Sukhaphisit, the producer of this campaign, highlighted that PrEP in the City portrays different facets of life such as work, friends and family, instead of previous efforts that focused solely on sex and risky behaviors.
Ms. Jiratchaya Sirimongkolnawin, Miss International Queen 2016, felt honored to be part of this remarkable campaign and grateful to IHRI for continuing to improve access to healthcare among transgender people, a group most vulnerable to HIV infection in Thailand. Ms. Kulchaya Tansiri, winner of the Face Thailand 5, and Ms Woranun Nalatworasakul, a transgender internet influencer, were delighted to have been selected as the cast and would like to encourage fellow transgender women to take PrEP and take control of their health. Additionally, they wished that the campaign would help reduce HIV-related stigma in Thai society.
Ms. Jennie Panhan, the famous transgendeer TV host also congratulated on the launch of PrEP in the City campaign. She hoped that the campaign would set a new trend among the transgender community to encourage self-awareness and integration of PrEP in their sexual health.
Dr. Stephen Mills, Regional Director of LINKAGES and EpiC Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand, said FHI 360 was proud to be a part of this groundbreaking initiative to ensure that transgender women have access to PrEP and understand that this effective option should be in their HIV prevention toolkit.
PrEP in the City campaign video can be viewed here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQT0pVHVFFg&t=1s