Dr. Hendry Luis: AIDS Prevention in Bali by Bill Dalton

Dr. Hendry Luis was born and grew up in Medan, North Sumatra. He attended Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta where he graduated in 2008 with a degree in medicine and a specialization in STDs and HIV. His first job was at Bhakti Ibu Mother and Children Hospital in Yogyakarta. In 2009, Dr. Hendry moved to Bali and worked at the Anggrek Clinic inUbud and Kimia Farma Clinic in Sanur. In 2015, he joined the staff at the non-profit Bali Peduli foundation. Dr. Hendry is currently the Executive Director of that organization, which is tasked with the vital job of preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS in Bali.


What inspired you to take up the cause of combating AIDS?

Indonesia is one of the few countries in the world that report a steadily rising number of new HIV infections. Bali is ranked as having the 5th highest HIV burden in the nation. Young people are particularly affected. Obviously, these facts are very alarming and were the main reason behind my wanting to become involved in HIV/AIDS work.


What is Bali Peduli’s mission?

To provide free and early HIV testing and treatment in order to save lives and prevent the spread of HIV in Bali. We are also committed to providing correct information about HIV to the public in order to address the stigma of HIV infection and AIDS. Knowledge and education are powerful tools to prevent both HIV infections and in fighting social prejudice against these diseases.


When was Bali Peduli established?

Bali Peduli was formed in 2011 by a group of concerned Bali residents under the guidance of Dr. Steve Wignall. He is an HIV physician and clinical researcher; National Policy Advisor for M2M HIV policy to the Indonesian National AIDS Commission and Senior Medical Advisor to the Clinton Foundation’s efforts to increase access to treatment for HIV+ people in the Indonesian province of Papua. Yayasan Bali Peduli received its final legal status as a charity from the government of Indonesia in 2013.


How does Bali Peduli get funding?

We are struggling with funding for our clinic services and our outreach and educational programs. We continue to apply for local and overseas grants. We have had a few small successful fund raising events but we hope to find longer term support from local donors.


Is the fight against AIDS in Indonesia as vigorous and as successful as it is in other S.E. Asian countries?

Indonesia is implementing UNAIDS strategies to combat HIV/AIDS, the 90-90-90, an ambitious treatment target to help end the AIDS epidemic. We hope that by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status. By 2020, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy. Also by that year, 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression. Despite the effective strategy, the HIV epidemic in Indonesia is among the fastest growing in Asia.


How is HIV infection mostly transmitted in Indonesia?

The means of HIV transmission has shifted from transmission through drug injecting to sexual transmission. The majority of HIV infections are concentrated in five key high risk groups: 1) people who inject drugs (PWIDs); 2) female sex workers (FSWs); 3) men who have sex with men (MSM) and male sex workers; 4) transgenders; and 5) clients of sex workers. Besides HIV, STIs (sexually transmitted infections) rates are also very high and ever increasing in those key populations.


Does Bali Peduli work in partnership with other organizations?

In fully addressing the complexity of HIV and sexual health issues, Bali Peduli has had to partner with several closely related organizations who have similar missions. Among those who work closely with us are Spirit Paramacita Foundation, Kerti Praja Foundation, Gaya Dewa Foundation, Bali Rainbow Community, Rotary, BIWA, Bali Kids and Bali Children Project. The Bali Health Authority, under the central government’s Ministry of Health, also supports Bali Peduli by providing HIV-antiretroviral medicines, testing reagents, condoms and lubricants.


Who is eligible for Bali Peduli services?

Anyone who is at risk of HIV and STIs who wants to be tested. Also anyone who is HIV+ and wants to start treatment. We also welcome anyone who needs information, care and support related to their own HIV status or that of a loved one. We are available to those who need advocacy assistance and intervention help with implicated stakeholders, including healthcare providers, partner organizations and national and regional networks. Our doors are open to anyone who needs help with HIV!


Are the services and tests at your two clinics free?

95% of our patients are Indonesian. All Indonesians are eligible for Bali Peduli services for free. But due to limited funding and the rising cost of reagents and operating expenses, we implemented a new charge policy for non-Indonesians on September 1st, 2016. Our fees, which can be accessed at www.balipeduli.org, are still far less expensive than commercial labs, local hospitals and local clinics.


What is the biggest challenge fighting AIDS in Bali?

 It’s still stigma towards people living with HIV-AIDS. Simply put, ignorance of HIV transmission and treatment leads to stigma. The fact is that HIV is very hard to transmit and with adherence to medicine people can live long and productive lives with AIDS. Medicine is available and accessible at no cost or at affordable cost in government hospitals and some private clinics. Our society and each community need to be informed about these facts.


How can one help?

We encourage volunteers to work in our various programs and participate in our educational efforts and fund raising activities. We also need help in supporting our capacity building and sustainability and in our campaign to end the stigma of HIV and AIDS.


Where can one learn more about Bali Peduli?

Visit the Bali Peduli office at Jl. Banteng 2E, Denpasar, our website www.balipeduli.org or contact me by email hendryluis@gmail.com or mobile 087-852-361-389.


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Copyright © 2017 Bill Dalton