Congratulations to all Champions of the IAS Me and My Healthcare Provider 2022
Me and My Healthcare Provider celebrates the many doctors, nurses, receptionists, pharmacists and other frontline healthcare providers around the world who deliver quality HIV prevention, treatment and care services to key populations, often in the face of discriminatory laws, traditions and belief systems.
Meet our Champions of MMHCP 2021
Ms Chan Nga Ki Kristy | Champion of MMHCP2021
*Mr Chan: I nominate Ms. Chan because…
I had been diagnosed HIV positive a few years ago, it incurred several physical and mental problems to me. At the same time, I had esophagus infection as well, so I had to rely on liquid food for a long time. Because of that, I was too weak to run my business, so it ended up closed. Because of these reasons, I was emotionally down, it was like a loss of hope. As a result, I always lamented why my life was so unfortunate.
Eventually, I turned to drugs for escape. Taking crystal meth provided the escape, I didn’t feel the loneliness and ache after taking it. However, after being addicted to drugs, I became aggressive and withdrawn, there was no hope for the future.
I met Ms. Kristy Chan after being transferred from the hospital to PS33 Counselling Service for Psychotropic Substance Abusers (PS33). A social worker arranged the first meeting between Kristy and me. She had a detailed evaluation of my case and provided detailed suggestions for my health condition. Also, Kristy introduced various MSM friendly medical services to me, including psychiatric services, dentists, and Chinese medicine practitioners. Kristy would always be by my side when I visit the doctor to make sure that I get proper treatment.
Kristy is cheerful, friendly, and patient. She cares for my progress every time I visit the doctor. She is non-judgmental of my sexual orientation, medical condition, and my drug abuse. She would respond to inquiries and answer my questions patiently and professionally. Apart from medical things, she also listens to my daily hassles and leads me to do self-reflection. Her smile always makes me easy, so that I can talk freely in front of her.
All these have been very helpful for me to get away from drug abuse and rebuild my confidence. With her help, I am receiving regular medical treatment. For now, my mental status, HIV status and substance abuse problem are under control. It looks like life is not dull anymore.
I nominate Kristy because she is different to the conventional medical provider, but she is my nurse, my counsellor, and my peer. Thus, I would like to nominate her to the Me and My Healthcare Provider nomination to recognize her contribution to MSM substance abusers.
When I first engaged in services for psychotropic drug abusers as a registered nurse, I thought HIV transmission was only common among heroin users via injection. As I started to learn about the “chem fun” culture (use of psychotropic drugs during sexual activities) among MSM (men who have sex with men) in Hong Kong, I realized many of them often gave up protection under the influence of drugs or peer pressure, and HIV infection was often a consequence.
The turning point for me was listening to a patient sharing in tears that he was abandoned by his boyfriend, who was a psychiatrist, after he was found positive for HIV. Each time after he attended the HIV clinic, he felt overwhelmed by the “identity” of having HIV and went indulging himself in “chem fun”. I realized he was discriminated against not only by his loved one but most hurtfully, by himself. I could not imagine the pain and shame people living under the labels of HIV and drug abuse have been bearing. My colleagues and I have always been striving to create a warm and HIV-friendly atmosphere and to let them feel loved and fully accepted.
*To protect the identity of the nominator, a pseudonym is used.
Dr. Lee Man-po | Champion of MMHCP2021
Timothy WONG: I nominate Dr. Lee because…
Dr. Lee is an experienced, responsible, and considerate medical professional who can show his full love and care when seeing the patients suffering from HIV infection.
Dr. Lee is leading a multidisciplinary care team aiming at providing an integrated and quality treatment and care service for people living with HIV (PLHIV) in Hong Kong. Their antiretroviral drug adherence program is tailored to the needs of PLHIV.
In the past couple of years, Dr. Lee has developed many new services to meet the evolving needs of PLHIV such as the multidisciplinary program for aging PLHIV, the Women and Reproductive Health Clinic, mental health service and harm reduction counselling for substance abuse and ChemSex, and comprehensive sexual health service. Dr. Lee and his team have recently published a book of PLHIV「愛‧生命；說‧故事」aiming at reducing stigma and fostering a better understanding of the infection by the general public.
Being President of HKSHM, Dr. Lee is leading and coordinating their society to support and promote the concept of undetectable equals un-transmittable (U=U) locally. Their U=U campaign has commenced since 2020 targeted at PLHIV, their partners, and the public, through various platforms including social media.
Dr. SIT, Yao-wai Alfred | Champion of MMHCP2021
*Dr. Kee: I nominate Dr. Sit because…
Alfred has organized many HIV/Aids research projects such as PRISM and HARIS, which are significant baseline studies to understand the HIV/Aids epidemic in Hong Kong.
I am #DoingTheRightThing because…
People in my generation were aware of AIDS during their childhood, because of numerous government TV advertisements which were always in dark backgrounds. My first memory of AIDS was a news report from TV. In the TV report, the Chinese translation of AIDS meant “A disease grown from love”. As a child, I was not able to understand the meaning of the disease name, however, I learnt that it was something like a taboo. Gradually, AIDS became a common theme of jokes between brats, despite we never really understood what it was.
During my adolescence, there was starting to have more information about HIV/AIDS in the public but my school never taught about it. Occasionally there were a few reports in the newspaper which was the only source of information to me. Even in medical school, there was not much teaching on it as HIV patients were still relatively rare at that time in my city.
THE TURNING POINT FOR ME WAS when a friend told me he was infected in 2010, I started to search for information on the internet. HIV was not a disease in books anymore, it became a real person. I started to realise that PLHIV were actually not rare after more friends who were HIV+ told me about their situations. They always had feared to let others know about their diseases because of the social stigma.
As a doctor working in the public health field, I have been fortunate to work in the government HIV unit since 2015, where I can conduct a lot of different projects, including community surveys targeting minority populations and targeted health promotion, and also a few clinical duties so that I can understand more on PLHIV’s needs and most importantly, their thoughts. In this unit, I have been able to work with a lot of non-government organisations that work with sexual minorities, sex workers, or drug users. I have been very happy to work with them, which gave me a lot of insights on how to plan and implement projects with sensitivity to clients’ needs. In the COVID pandemic, we are working together to provide assistance to many PLHIV who are not able to obtain drugs via their usual source.
Until the day when HIV becomes curable, I will continue to support PLHIV and the population at risk.
*To protect the identity of the nominator, a pseudonym is used.
Dr. Barry TAM| Champion of MMHCP2021
Eris Lau: I nominate Dr. Tam because…
Dr. Tam is knowledgeable about his profession and passionate to help his own patient. He is also extremely helpful for his working parties, i.e. Hong Kong AIDS Foundation, when giving his professional advice in helping to deal with PLHIV.
Dr Barry Tam is currently a Clinical Psychologist working in a public hospital in Hong Kong, serving people living with HIV (PLWH) since 2016. He finished his clinical training at University College London (UCL)—an institute with a long history of fighting for equality. He completed his thesis with Prof Narinder Kapur, a renowned clinical neuropsychologist in the UK. Barry’s neuropsychology background motivated him to be a keen advocate of awareness of HIV-associated Neurocognitive Disorder (HAND) and ageing with HAND. Emphasizing hospital-community partnership, Barry has been trying to arouse the attention of staff and service users of local charities through psychoeducation on such a topic across Hong Kong since 2019.
In treatment, Barry draws on a range of psychological models including CBT and Psychodynamic theory. Having completed post-qualification training in Systemic Therapy, Barry’s work with PLWH was greatly influenced by ideas from Narrative Therapy which advocates the understanding of self as a product through relationships. Particularly, Barry often queries the process by which people come to describe and explain the world, inviting PLWH to negotiate relationships with themselves and others, especially challenging the stigma discourses that might have come to dominate their life stories. Not only providing support at the individual level, Barry also started the first psychological screening clinic for PLWH attending public hospital in Hong Kong in 2017, particularly identifying and working with those facing disclosure issues given HIV-related stigma. Barry was involved in supporting PLWH suffering from Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML).
He noticed the significant discrimination among local care homes which made PLWH unfavourable in their placement after hospital discharge. Such an experience further solidified his commitment to work on promoting focus on inclusivity among care homes, inspiring him to join a local charity as an executive board member recently. He hopes to bring his work on to an organizational level.
The IAS – the International AIDS Society – Me and My Healthcare Provider campaign, established in 2016 as part of the IAS Nobody Left Behind initiative, promotes best practice in healthcare service delivery that reduces stigma and discrimination.
The campaign recognises doctors, nurses, clinic receptionists, pharmacists and other frontline healthcare workers around the world who provide stigma and discrimination free services to people living with and most affected by HIV and promotes efforts to increase access to services, often in the face of discriminatory laws, traditions and belief systems. Based on the personal experiences and stories shared by these Healthcare Champions, the campaign fosters a better understanding of the factors that enable healthcare practitioners to “do the right thing”.
This year’s campaign objective is to celebrate and recognise the achievements of the healthcare provider Champions and/or team Champions (that include healthcare providers from the same unit or institution or network of services), with an aim to learn from and replicate the innovative methodological approaches used by the Champions and ensure a meaningful and active engagement of people and communities living with and affected by HIV in the HIV response.
This round of the campaign was made possible with the support of Gilead Sciences
The campaign solicits nominations from people living with and most affected by HIV to honour Champions’ work and commitment to service provision. Accompanied by their nominators, the representative Champion will be invited to attend the International AIDS Conference virtually. They will be honoured during an award ceremony in a high-profile conference session, take part in press conferences and discussions with key experts, attend relevant conference sessions, and have an opportunity to network with professionals in the HIV community.
To continue inspiring replication of stigma- and discrimination-free practice, the selected Champions will feature in multimedia profiles that are promoted after each conference through a social media campaign.
The nomination period runs from 11 January 2022 to 12nn(HKT), 14 February 2022. Each person can nominate at least one Hong Kong healthcare provider. To do so, please fill in and submit the nomination form online. All nominations will be submitted to the review panel and a champion(individual and/or team/unit of healthcare providers) representing Hong Kong will be selected to join further events and promotions.