The global consensus on the HIV/AIDS epidemic is that it can be eliminated, only if there is a committed global effort.
The Taiwan Lourdes Association (TLA), a pioneer in HIV advocacy in Taiwan, is constantly finding ways to be at the forefront of strategies to build effective HIV prevention/care cascade, while strengthening international partnerships.
With Gilead’s support, at TLA we organized, on April 22 to 26, 2019, a group study trip to San Francisco to learn about the: Getting to Zero (GTZ) initiative. We believe that this successful initiative could be an inspiring model for HIV communities in Asia, given the similarities in HIV populations and issues the region faces. We sent eighteen NGO representatives and community leaders from Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan to participate in this five-day trip.
The representatives visited government organizations and NGOs engaged in the GTZ initiative including the San Francisco Public Health Department, Magnet, San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Glide, San Francisco Community Health Center, Mission Neighborhood Health Center and Instituto Familiar de la Raza. Delegates also had the opportunity to attend the inaugural GTZ quarterly meeting.
During this trip, the TLA team was inspired as we learnt the key drivers behind the success of the GTZ initiative.
Firstly, the principle of collective impact, under which the GTZ consortium operates, demonstrates how a working synergy among the public, private and NGO sectors is created when a common agenda and a progress measurement system are mutually developed and in place.
Secondly, the diversity of services by the consortium which cover key populations affected by HIV in San Francisco. It’s Impressive to witness how the harm-reduction approach implemented from the top policy-making level, impacted the end service provision level positively.
The most touching aspect of the consortium was its humanistic and client-centered working approach. The consortium works under the belief that the-stigmatization starts from how service providers describe their target population. For example, workers at Glide would use the term “people who are undergoing a homeless situation” rather than “homeless people” because they believe people lose their homes for many different reasons. NGOs also emphasize the importance of “going to where the clients are and serving them on the spot”. Under this conviction, services are designed to meet the real needs of the target population.
In the whole HIV care-cascade, from prevention to treatment, we have seen NGOs, the San Francisco department of health, private foundations and pharma companies being engaged. The essence of the GTZ initiative, including collective impact, diversity of services, and the humanistic approach, is an inspiration not only for TLA’s service design, but for the collective effort to end the HIV epidemic here in Taiwan.
Taiwan Lourdes Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to HIV/AIDS related fields and provides various services for PLWHA. The association’s goal is to improve the quality of life of PLWHA through various care, support services, and programs. The association also advocates for human rights of PLWHA and empowers them to improve their general wellbeing. Its Taipei and Taichung Friendship Centers provide a wide array of services for the PLWHA community and family, welcoming over thousands of clients visiting yearly from diverse groups across various ethnicities and ages.