Activist Toolkit Launched at Regional Workshops in Panama and South Africa

Revised, Updated and Expanded Advocacy for Community Treatment (ACT) Toolkit Launched at Regional Activist Workshops in Panama and South Africa

The second edition of the Advocacy for Community Treatment (ACT) Toolkit is launched today, at workshops for activists in two regions; Latin America and the Caribbean and Southern Africa. Developed by the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC), the ACT Toolkit supports communities to realize their rights to optimal HIV treatment; which means effective, affordable treatment with minimal side effects.

Topics covered in the Toolkit include: the science of HIV, the relationship between human rights and HIV treatment, and financing for health. It also highlights opportunities and barriers to scaling up treatment, as well as provides practical guidance on how to mobilize communities to increase access to treatment.

The second edition of the toolkit, ACT Toolkit 2.0 (PDF) is produced in collaboration with the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA). It includes updated information on HIV treatment guidelines and treatment monitoring, as well as new modules on HIV co-morbidities, including HCV, TB and noncommunicable diseases, such as cancer.

Bactrin Kilingo and Alma de Leon at regional training of Routine Viral Load Testing in Panama

Launch of toolkit

Appropriately, ACT Toolkit 2.0 is being launched in workshops in two regions where people living with HIV face momentous challenges securing access to optimal treatment. “Around 57% of the 1.7 million people living with HIV in Latin America are on HIV treatment, of which 38% have achieved viral suppression,” says Alma de Leon, Director of ITPC Latin American and the Caribbean, who is hosting the workshop in Panama City. “Key populations, such as men who have sex with men and sex workers, have much higher prevalence levels than the general population, and face immense obstacles accessing services such as HIV treatment monitoring”.

In Johannesburg, the new toolkit is featured in a five-day workshop for activists at the Advanced Training of Trainers course led by ARASA. “The ACT Toolkit 2.0 provides is an excellent tool for not only learning about the science of HIV and related-diseases, but also identifying entry points and actions for advocacy to demand a human rights-based response to HIV and TB,” explains Michaela Clayton, Director of ARASA.

“The ACT Toolkit educates people about their own treatment needs. Once informed, people living with HIV are energized and inspired to demand better regimens and monitoring of their treatment,” adds Bactrin Killingo, Treatment Education Lead at ITPC. “The toolkit aims to increase knowledge and strengthen advocacy capacity; both crucial elements for bringing about change.”

Community organizations are encouraged to select the modules most relevant to their context. There are two essential modules in the Toolkit to be used in every training session; module 1) the Science of HIV and Treatment, and module 7) Advocacy. The remaining modules can be used as required, based on specific training needs. Helpfully for facilitators, each of the modules is supported with PowerPoint presentations, and ideas for engaging participants to reinforce the learning.

“A must-read for every activist working on access to treatment for HIV as well as TB and HCV coinfection,” says Polly Clayden, activist for over 12 years and co-founder of i-Base. “The ITPC, ACT toolkit covers everything from how the drugs work to who pays for them (or should be paying), and describes ways in which we might plan our advocacy.”

“Community activists often lack the knowledge about HIV treatment and their rights, and the skills to communicate their needs in local and national forums, where decisions are made,” says Lynette Mabote, Advocacy Team Leader at ARASA. “The ACT Toolkit 2.0 helps to fill this gap.”

The original ACT Toolkit was developed by ITPC with funding support from the Bridging the Gaps program. The second edition was developed with financial support from the Robert Carr civil society Networks Fund.

Download the ACT Toolkit 2.0 (PDF) here.

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