Caroline Francis, Project Director, FHI 360
Darmika Hutabarat, Knowledge Management and Communications Specialist, FHI 360
Erlian Aditya, Deputy Technical Director, FHI 360
Lucyan Umboh, Technical Manager, FHI 360
Asep Kustiawan, Technical Officer, FHI 360
Andrea Surette, Knowledge Management Technical Advisor, FHI 360

Featured image: Vaccination volunteers like Dr. Audra conduct home visits to reach transgender and key populations with the COVID-19 vaccine. Photo by EpiC Indonesia.

EpiC Indonesia produced a video that aired during the AIDS 2022 conference. The following story is adapted from that video.

Ferry is a 45-year-old man living with his wife and children in Jakarta, Indonesia. He works as a motorcycle taxi driver and helps his wife sell food in front of their home. In 2007, he was diagnosed with HIV and receives treatment at Kramat Jati Hospital.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Ferry has worried about being exposed and decided to stay home and stop driving his motorcycle taxi. When COVID-19 vaccines were rolled-out in Indonesia, Ferry was interested in getting vaccinated, but he’d heard that HIV-positive people were not able to receive the vaccine.

USAID’s Meeting Targets and Maintaining Epidemic Control (EpiC) project in Indonesia has worked throughout the pandemic to ensure continuity of HIV services for people living with HIV (PLHIV). EpiC supports case managers and peer navigators to connect PLHIV to services, deliver medications, and provide psychosocial support. These connections have been especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as access to health services for PLHIV have been more challenging than ever.

Community-based case manager Ms. Udur assured Ferry that PLHIV are eligible for vaccination and connected him to a site that vaccinates PLHIV against COVID-19. The information and support that Ms. Udur provided gave Ferry the confidence to visit the vaccination site on his own. He is now fully vaccinated, including a booster shot.

“I wanted to get vaccinated, but when I asked my friend about it, he told me that he was rejected because he said he was HIV positive. Luckily, I met Ms. Udur. She helps people living with HIV. She told me that the COVID-19 vaccine is for everyone! Ms. Udur also told me that there are places that help people living with HIV get vaccines.  Finally, I am fully vaccinated! I’ve been vaccinated three times, thanks to Ms. Udur, who has encouraged me and made me feel more confident visiting the vaccination site by myself. Thanks for letting me know that there are vaccine-friendly services for people living with HIV. Now I have peace of mind and remain optimistic about living a healthy life.”

Case Manager Ms. Udur counsels Ferry on where to access PLHIV-friendly COVID-19 vaccination services. Photo by EpiC Indonesia.

Case managers supported by the EpiC project have found creative and effective ways to support their clients to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Rafa, a case manager, often conducts multiple visits with his clients who are hesitant to get vaccinated. He explains the benefits of vaccination for PLHIV and offers to accompany clients to vaccination sites that are friendly to PLHIV. EpiC also supports providers like Dr. Audra who serve as COVID-19 vaccination volunteers. These volunteers bring vaccinations closer to those clients who may be experiencing barriers, such as transportation costs, distance from vaccination sites, or lack of time to go to a vaccination site. Key populations, including men who have sex with men and transgender people, can experience additional barriers to receiving health services, like stigma, discrimination, and economic vulnerability. To reach these underserved populations, local health workers and communities collaborate with vaccination teams to identify areas where mobile vaccine clinics or door-to-door visits could benefit the most community members.