Art for a cause: HIV exhibition boosts support for Asia Pacific

By Our Reporter
Sita Shahi, Regional Coordinator

The National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) and ViiV Healthcare Australia have announced that proceeds from the 2023 HIV Science as Art Exhibition will be dedicated to supporting people living with HIV in Asia and the Pacific, with a specific focus on key populations.

In its inaugural year, the exhibition raised over $20,000 AUD, earmarked for programs and services benefiting those affected by HIV in the Asia Pacific region. Premiering at the Brisbane International AIDS Conference in 2023, the event showcased scientific advancements in HIV through the eyes of extraordinary artists living with HIV globally.

Scott Harlum, President of NAPWHA, expressed pride in the initiative, which resulted in 18 microgrants being awarded to small organisations across South East Asia and the Pacific. “Generating funding for 18 grants is an excellent outcome and much more than we had hoped for. It is wonderful to bring this project to a close knowing that it has been such a great success. I’m extremely proud that NAPWHA has delivered on its undertaking to ensure that the proceeds raised will improve the lives of people with HIV in our region,” he said.

Harry Prabowo, Program Manager of the Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, and Sita Shahi, Regional Coordinator of the International Community of Women Living with HIV Asia Pacific, praised the microgrants as a means to support innovative grassroots programs. “The microgrant applications highlighted the community’s excitement, enthusiasm, and commitment to helping improve the lives of people living with HIV in the Asia Pacific. We were overwhelmed with the number of brilliant ideas and programs that were submitted, and the 18 grants awarded are a testament to the community’s ongoing dedication, innovation, and hard work in the space,” they said. “We hope to continue creating opportunities for grassroots community programs to secure funding via microgrants in the future.”

The HIV epidemic in Asia and the Pacific disproportionately affects key populations and their sexual partners. Despite significant efforts, the region accounted for almost a quarter of all new global HIV transmissions in 2022, struggling to meet global targets with only a 14% reduction in new transmissions between 2010 and 2022.

Ann Maccarrone, Community Engagement and Partnerships Manager at ViiV Healthcare Australia, highlighted the importance of the microgrants. “It is vital that regions, like Asia and the Pacific, who are struggling with increased rates of HIV transmission are supported as they continue to strive to meet global targets. The microgrants will give community organisations access to short-term funding opportunities that will help turn ideas into reality and help make a positive impact in communities and foster progress toward targets to end AIDS.”

Following a successful first year, HIV Science as Art will return at the Munich International AIDS Conference in July 2024. The 2023 project was a collaboration between NAPWHA, the Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health, Holdsworth House Medical Practice, Metro Arts, the International AIDS Society, and Queensland Positive People, with funding from ViiV Healthcare Australia through an unrestricted educational grant.

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