A recent study on COVID-19 vaccine acceptability among people living with HIV and key populations has found 52% of people living with HIV (PLHIV) would take the COVID-19 vaccine when it is made available to them. Despite cases continuing to climb, just 25% of survey respondents thought getting the vaccine would protect others in their community from being infected with COVID-19.
Vaccine acceptability was highest among younger respondents, with 56% of survey respondents 20 and under keen to take the vaccine, compared to just 32% over the age of 51.
The survey was conducted by leading HIV group KP Advocacy Consortium PNG with assistance from UNAIDS, The Global Fund, FHI 360 and the National Department of Health. The survey asked respondents whether they would get the vaccine as well as questions vaccine safety and misinformation.
Critically, more respondents were concerned about severe reactions from the vaccine (38%), than were concerned about the virus itself (33%). These concerns are likely a response to the prevalence of negative information on vaccines with 65% of respondents reporting they had seen negative information on COVID-19 vaccines. This includes 75% of respondents in National Capital District and 83% who were also the least likely to take the vaccine, with just 25% of NCD and 31% of Madang respondents willing to take the vaccine.
Just 24% of respondents reported that they think the COVID-19 vaccine is very safe.
Results from the survey will help UNAIDS and partners address the concerns of these key populations as COVID cases continue to rise across Papua New Guinea.
The coordinator of the KP Advocacy Consortium, Lesley Bola indicated that he is overwhelmed with the support from all partners and the communities. “It is alarming to re-confirm how Facebook has contributed to mis-conceptions about the vaccination,” he said. “The results come in handy to start developing targeted messages to encourage everyone to start accessing the vaccine.”
A follow up survey to see if there is any shift in acceptance to getting the vaccination will be conducted in next 5-6 months.
People Living with HIV and COVID-19 Vaccines
UNAIDS has released guidance on the COVID-19 vaccine that states “The COVID-19 vaccines under development or approved by regulators are believed to be safe for most people, including people living with HIV.”
“COVID-19 vaccines bring the same benefits to people living with HIV as they bring to all individuals and communities—prevention of severe disease due to SARS-CoV-2 and potentially reduced transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. There is therefore no reason why people living with HIV should not take the vaccine when offered it.”
About KP Advocacy Consortium PNG
The Key Populations Consortium PNG is a network of community-based organizations, bringing together the work and dedication of Igat Hope, Friends Frangipani, and Kapul Champions.
UNAIDS, with support from the Global Fund and National Department of Health, has supported KP Advocacy Consortium PNG in several initiatives to protect people living with HIV from COVID-19 and the impacts of pandemic control measures. Since March 2020, the organization supported the community through surveying people living with HIV, mapping key clinics, monitoring antiretroviral drug supplies, and participating in the inter-agency Protection Cluster that addresses immediate and secondary impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations. This work has been instrumental in ensuring the needs of people living with HIV are met despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.
15 June 2021