Written by Trisa Taro, Program Impact Manager, ITPC
The International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) has just released the Key Population Activist Toolkit on PrEP, developed to equip community activists with the knowledge and skills they need to demand pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
While the rate of new HIV infections among adults globally remains the same, rates have risen in many parts of the world and in certain key populations. The World Health Organization recommends that oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) be offered to people who are HIV negative and at increased risk of HIV infection, in addition to and in combination with other HIV prevention services, such as condoms, male circumcision, antiretroviral drugs for people living with HIV, and harm reduction services for people who inject drugs.
People who need PrEP have the right to access it as a human right to good health. For their part, governments have a duty to progressively enable access to PrEP for those who need it. According to the standards of health rights, PrEP should be available, affordable, and accessible, and it should be offered in a manner responsive to the needs and concerns of beneficiary communities.
To this end, community demand for PrEP is essential for enabling access. Community-led demand efforts — whether PrEP services are widely available or not at all — can influence the success of PrEP programming. This includes influencing the accessibility of PrEP services to the community, whether people actually choose to take PrEP, and whether PrEP services are being offered in ways that are suited to the needs of potential and actual PrEP users.
The Key Population Activist Toolkit on PrEP from the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) is intended for community activists working to increase demand for PrEP. The aims of the toolkit are to:
- Equip community activists with the knowledge and skills that they need around PrEP, advocacy, and community mobilization so that they are able to mobilize their communities to demand PrEP
- Enable community PrEP activists to advocate with their governments and service providers to allow key populations access to PrEP services
- Ensure that these services are provided in a manner that is affordable and appropriate to their needs and that addresses access barriers
How was the toolkit developed?
Supported by the USAID- and PEPFAR-supported LINKAGES project and MAC AIDS Fund, the toolkit builds upon the foundation laid by the community-led consultative think tank meeting on access to and use of PrEP that ITPC hosted in 2017. This consultative meeting brought together civil society representatives, members of key populations, and technical expert groups for open discussions focused on key considerations of PrEP implementation across key population groups and the development of national strategies to create better access to PrEP for communities.
The outcomes of this process included an in-depth literature review, a consultative meeting report, and a global position statement outlining key considerations for community-led demand creation for PrEP among key populations.
Who is the toolkit for?
The toolkit is intended for individuals, organizations, and networks — particularly those representing key populations — who seek to:
- Learn more about PrEP
- Contribute to preventing the spread of HIV in their communities
- Mobilize their communities and advocate with community leaders and decision makers for access to PrEP
The toolkit is designed to be used by a trainer to train others in a participatory learning environment, but it can be adapted for other contexts.
ITPC’s work has uncovered glaring gaps along the HIV treatment cascade – including poor optimization and affordability of ARVs and lack of community engagement in decision-making processes – pointing to ongoing needs of people living with HIV in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean. In the context of our overall work on treatment access, it has become clear that discussions about PrEP must be better integrated into issues related to treatment access. “Treatment as prevention” and similar frameworks reinforce that all steps of the cascade are linked and should be treated as such. As an extension of our existing work in community-led advocacy for HIV treatment, ITPC will continue leading community-led consultative processes on PrEP, as well as PrEP rollout and implementation.
ITPC looks forward to launching the Key Population Activist Toolkit on PrEP in French and Spanish later this month.
To learn more about PrEP and advocacy, download the Key Population Activist Toolkit on PrEP (PDF, 7MB).