In this blog post for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases, Wenting Huang, a research assistant at UNC Project-China, shares lessons learned from attending the Asia Pacific AIDS and Co-infections Conference in Hong Kong.
Last week, the UNC Social Entrepreneurship to Spur Health (SESH) team participated in the third Asia Pacific AIDS & Co-infections Conference (APACC) in Hong Kong. The APACC conference, first held in 2016, fosters knowledge sharing and capacity building in order to empower the HIV medical community and contribute to the improvement of access to care in the Asia Pacific region. This year, the conference organizer program featured plenary sessions, capacity-building sessions, oral abstract presentations, poster presentations, a guided poster walk, an exhibition and a social session for community-building.
In this conference, researchers have the opportunity to present and discuss the latest developments of the treatments for HIV and co-infections, including tuberculosis and hepatitis. The conference focused on HIV preventions and treatments. Topics of different sessions included HIV interventions on social media; drug resistance and future HIV treatment strategies; rapid initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for people living with HIV; pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV; and involving key populations in HIV interventions and the care continuum.
In total, eight abstracts were accepted from the SESH team, including oral and poster presentations. Drs. Weiming Tang, Bolin Cao and Joseph Tucker were invited to give talks at the conference. Dr. Tang introduced the social media approach to increase HIV testing in China in the social media and mHealth plenary session. Dr. Cao presented a systematic review of social media HIV interventions in the same session. Audiences were interested in particular social-media platforms for different key populations like transgender individuals and sex workers. The panel also discussed other questions raised by the audiences like providing HIV care services through social media platforms.
In the capacity building session of systematic review, Dr. Tucker introduced different types of review and the process of conducting a systematic review. Attendees were separated into groups to practice developing a systematic review topic. Dr. Tucker and another speaker, Dr. Matthew Law also engaged in discussion and provided immediate feedback to each group.
Creatively, the conference organizers offered sessions for poster presentation, a guided poster walk and a debate. In the poster presentation session, Peipei Zhao from the SESH team presented a cross-sectional study on identifying men who have sex with men (MSM)-competent physicians in China. Wenting Huang presented a secondary analysis of an online condom use promotion cohort study among Chinese MSM. In the guided poster walk session, a senior researcher led a group discussion in front of the poster after the speaker gave a brief presentation. These sessions provide unique opportunities for junior scholars to present their works and more interactions with senior scholars.
A lively and passionate debate was between Dr. Mark Boyd and Dr. Thuy Le on whether isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT) to prevent tuberculosis should be implemented for all HIV patients in the Asia-Pacific. The audience voted before and after the debate. The winner was decided by the changes of votes. Dr. Boyd argued for IPT to be implemented for all HIV patients while Dr. Le argued against this. Debaters stated their viewpoints and then had a free debate. The audience also engaged in the debate by asking questions. The number of final votes was so close with Dr. Le winning by only seven votes.
APACC also offered over 100 scholars participation grants, which covered the traveling and accommodation fee.