HIV-related philanthropy to East Asia and Southeast Asia in 2021:
*This total reflects epidemiological data from UNAIDS which groups the South Asia and the Pacific region and the East Asia and Southeast Asia region into “Asia and the Pacific.”
As a complement to Philanthropic Support to Address HIV and AIDS in 2021, this regional profile provides a new level of data to help inform the advocacy of funders and communities active in the region. To spotlight the important role of investing in community-led organizations, FCAA invited a grantee perspective from Lighthouse—a grantee of ViiV Healthcare Positive Action and MPact Global Action—in Vietnam.
Lighthouse Social Enterprise
Lighthouse Social Enterprise is an organization that has been leading and fighting for the rights, equity, health and development of the LGBTQI+ community in Vietnam for nearly 20 years. The organization works through empowering and strengthening the community’s capacity to speak up and advocate for their rights based on empirical evidence, providing healthcare services to advance the community’s integral health, and mobilizing an inclusive, cohesive, and growing community to ensure no one is left behind. Lighthouse symbolizes a safe haven for the community and a guiding light for the LGBTQI+ community to overcome obstacles and strive for a brighter future.
In Vietnam, as well as in the broader Asia-Pacific region, HIV remains a significant public health concern. Vietnam’s HIV epidemic is concentrated among three key populations: MSM, people who use drugs, and female sex workers. Stigma and discrimination pose significant barriers to HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and care in Vietnam, and people living with HIV (PLWH) often face social exclusion, limited access to healthcare services, and violations of their rights. Coinfections, such as tuberculosis and viral hepatitis, are also prevalent among people living with HIV in the region, leading to increased morbidity and mortality.
Efforts are needed to reduce HIV-related stigma and discrimination, protect the rights of PLWH and key populations, and address structural barriers to accessing healthcare and social services. Collaboration among governments, civil society organizations, communities, and development partners is crucial to strengthen the HIV response, promote evidence-based policies, and ensure sustainable funding for prevention, treatment, care, and support services. By tailoring interventions to local contexts, engaging communities, and addressing the social determinants of health, an effective response to the HIV epidemic can be achieved in Vietnam and the broader Asia-Pacific region.
Since 2018, Lighthouse has been working with and receiving support from ViiV Healthcare Positive Action for initiatives aimed at improving the quality of the healthcare system, with a focus on community-friendly and high-quality healthcare services. This includes interventions to enhance mental health for key populations and, most recently, interventions to reduce harm among the chemsex community in Vietnam. Chemsex refers to the consumption of drugs to facilitate or enhance sexual activity. The support from ViiV Healthcare Positive Action has enabled Lighthouse to implement community-designed initiatives that are often overlooked and received limited investment, as well as to advocate for increased attention and investment in these new and urgent areas. Lighthouse has also received valuable technical support from the personnel of ViiV Healthcare Positive Action and the Amplify Impact Grant.
This is a powerful model of partnership, particularly when investments in grassroots, community-based organizations remain very limited. Funders should prioritize capacity-building for the community and promote intersectionality and connectivity within the broader community as a foundation for sustainable development in the HIV response. Furthermore, it is necessary to have long-term funding commitments of at least five years or more to ensure effective initiatives/models are scaled up, increase impact, and allow sufficient time to secure resources for sustainability. Finally, it is crucial to ensure flexible funding that aligns with each country context, political landscape, and emerging community’s issues.
FCAA member MPact Global Action has also provided support over the past decade to Lighthouse. Most recently, MPact sponsored Lighthouse’s 4th Annual Vietnam LGBTIQ+ National Summit – Stronger Together 2022 – Inclusion = Solution. Over 160 diverse members of the LGBTIQ community, their parents, allies, partners and stakeholders across Vietnam participated in the Summit to strategize on (1) Rights, Equity and Advocacy, (2) Holistic Health and Wellbeing, (3) Sustainable Development for LGBTIQ+ Organizations and Network.
— Doan Thanh Tung, Executive Director, Lighthouse