A group of 11 Indonesian health workers have arrived in Australia to gain knowledge and experience working in HIV prevention for gay men.

The delegation, funded by a grant from AusAID’s Australian Leadership Award (ALA) Fellowships Program, is made up of both government and non-government representatives.

During their stay, the Indonesians will complete work placements with Sydney HIV and sexual health services, and will then travel to Melbourne to attend the Australasian HIV/AIDS Conference.

They will learn about improved management of human resources, budgets and programs activities, enhanced communication strategies, better health promotion activities and the ability to use information from research and regular monitoring and evaluation to inform program directions.

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations executive director Rob Lake said the visit demonstrated Australia’s capacity to show regional leadership and share experience and skills in HIV prevention education.

“Australia’s reputation for leadership in HIV prevention and treatment is world renowned,” Lake said.

“In addition, we have significant experience in highlighting the impact of laws that make HIV prevention more difficult.”

The delegation arrived last week and will stay until mid-October.

ALA Fellowships are intended for those who are already leaders or have the potential to assume leadership roles who can influence social and economic policy reform and development outcomes, both in their own countries and in the Asia-Pacific region.

Responding to the rapidly expanding HIV epidemic among gay men is a priority for the Indonesian National AIDS Commission (NAC). In collaboration with the National Network of Gay Men, the NAC implements a multi-province HIV prevention for men who have sex with men (MSM), care and treatment program across 10 locations, and hopes to expand this to 37 sites soon.

Lake said this was why the Indonesian delegation had been brought to Australia.

“Large cities in Indonesia and other parts of South East Asia face similar challenges in reducing HIV transmission amongst gay men. AFAO and Australian HIV organisations are keen to support this work,” he said.

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