“Out in Japan” is an ambitious photography project which aims to take photographs of 10 000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Japan by 2020, when Tokyo will garner global attention as the host of the Olympic Games. The photographer, Leslie Kee from Singapore is directing the project, which is sponsored by the non-profit, Good Aging Yells.

Gon Matsunaka, the founder of Good Aging Yells says “LGBT people in Japan are still largely invisible, many are afraid to speak out about their sexual orientation and gender identity. However, while still few in number, more and more LGBT people are taking their courage in both hands and speaking up. This chain reaction by individuals can change the perception one neighbour at a time and transform society. “Out in Japan’ aims to weave together this budding chain of courage.”

Mr Kee’s work as fashion, celebrity and art photographer has been widely published in magazines and he is well-known for his portraits of top artists like Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Pharrell Williams, Cindy Crawford and Yoko Ono. Mr Kee was recently interviewed about “Out in Japan” by the Japanese TV broadcaster, TBS. UNAIDS spoke to Mr Kee about his involvement in this innovative project, which aims to break down LGBT stigma one photograph at a time.

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For millions of young people who use drugs from Asia and the Pacific, services that could improve their health, encourage recovery and bring about a better quality of life are often denied. Stigma, discriminatory laws and policies prevent many people who use drugs from accessing the benefits of harm reduction programmes.

Eliminating such barriers was the focus of “Access to Harm Reduction Services for Young People Who Inject Drugs in Asia and the Pacific”, a session held on 20 October as part of the 24th International Harm Reduction Conference (IHRC) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Youth LEAD ran the session, which was supported by UNESCO Bangkok.

The dynamic and interactive discussion brought together advocates for marginalized youth from throughout the region for a discussion on systems that too often fail the health needs of young people.

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Women who inject drugs are at high risk of HIV

“I was 18 years old, when a school friend introduced me to drugs,” said Pam, who is now in her thirties and lives in Chiang Mai, a major city in northern Thailand.

“When I was 22, I met a guy, who became my lover. We injected drugs together. At that time I was sharing needles with many people,” said Pam.

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There will be an innovative arts track at the International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP), which will take place from 20-23 November in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It will be put together through an international collaboration of local artists, community arts specialists from Australia and civil society organizations in Dhaka.

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The health and human rights of transgender people in the Asia-Pacific region are highlighted in a new report released 8 October by the Asia-Pacific Transgender Network. The “Blueprint for the Provision of Comprehensive Care for Trans People and Trans Communities in Asia and the Pacific” points to the significant barriers transgender people face, highlights important progress in some countries, and calls for sustained efforts to improve the legal and social status of transgender people across the region. Read More

The Thai Red Cross Anonymous Clinic (TRCAC) sits nestled back from a busy street in Bangkok, Thailand. This globally renowned institution is a familiar place for Jonas Bagas, who visits the leafy compound regularly. Jonas lives in Manila in the Philippines but he comes here because he is taking oral pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, which for the moment in Asia is only available at TRCAC. In other countries, people taking part in a PrEP study may be also able to access it.

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BEIJING, 21 September 2015 – Government representatives from 19 countries in the Asia-Pacific region have agreed to accelerate efforts to eliminate the parent-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.

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There is a need to reform laws on sex work in Myanmar and raise awareness of the challenges sex workers face, according to senior representatives of government, sex worker networks and international organizations. The recommendations were made during the National Seminar on Collaboration for the HIV Response with Sex Workers in Myanmar, which took place in Nay Pyi Taw from 21-22 September.

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