Condoms and Carbon?

Fetching Water

The following post is by Associate Communications Manager Scott Thompson for the Family Planning conference currently taking place in Dakar.

This week, two high-profile discussions are taking place on the same continent, at the same time, between more or less the same people.

The schedule overlap is likely coincidental, but it’s a coincidence that should not be overlooked. It’s a coincidence that illuminates our traditional, siloed way of thinking about global issues – which needs to change.

On Tuesday, the International Family Planning Conference began in Dakar, Senegal – one day after the United Nations Climate Change Conference opened in Durban, South Africa. At each gathering, government officials, private companies, scientists, NGOs, and youth leaders from around the world are sharing the latest advances and challenges in their fields. The ultimate goal is to shape a new narrative around family planning or climate change.

But therein lies the rub.

Global Fund: Not Dead Yet!

In an open letter, Simon Bland, Chair of the Board for the Global Fund, writes to clarify a few misconceptions about recent news surrounding the Global Fund. He explains that present commitments will continue until their end in 2014. After then, the Fund, due to economic uncertainty, will begin to shift the way that it offers grants. He explains:

The Global Fund will disburse around US$10 billion in our current funding period, (2011 – 2013); US$2 billion more than what it disbursed between 2008 and 2010. This includes disbursing money to new, ambitious programs. Efficiencies we have achieved in the past three funding rounds and in other areas will allow several countries to increase the number of patients receiving AIDS or tuberculosis treatment. So more people – not less – will be given access to treatment in the coming two years.

With the exception of one smaller country which has reduced its pledge by a few million dollars, all donors who made pledges for the 2011 -2013 period have kept them and have signaled that they are continuing to strive to pay in their pledges in full.

Healthy Dose December 2, 2011

Yellow Fever Reported in Senegal

Senegal says that three cases of yellow fever were detected in Kédougou and Saraya Health districts in late October. TheWHO reports:

Yellow fever vaccination driveThe index case was a 25 year-old female who developed symptoms of fever, headache and vomiting, with no history of yellow fever vaccination. She consulted the health military post of Kédougou on 23 July 2011. The case was detected as part of a surveillance project for dengue and chikungunya conducted in the region. The WHO reference laboratory for Yellow Fever at the Institut Pasteur in Dakar confirmed the case (IgM by ELISA test and Plaque Reduction Neutralization Test or PRNT) on 10 October 2011.

Two other cases – 29 year-old female and 3 year-old male – were reported on 10 and 11 August 2011. All three cases have fully recovered. An outbreak investigation team assessed the situation in the Kédougou and Saraya districts from 8 to 29 August 2011, where a total of 76 people (suspected cases and their contacts, including 10 deaths) were identified. Laboratory tests conducted showed no evidence of recent yellow fever infection among the 76 people. However, the tests (IgG) indicated that 20 of them had previously been exposed to yellow fever virus or yellow fever vaccine.

The health districts of Kédougou and Saraya benefited from a preventive mass vaccination campaign in December 2007, where the vaccination coverage was 94.9% and 94.8% respectively.

The Ministry of Health of Senegal plans to organize a vaccination campaign in mid-December 2011, targeting the non-vaccinated individuals aged nine months and above, excluding pregnant women in Kédougou, Saraya and Salémata health districts. The mass vaccination campaign aims to protect the susceptible population living in the area, which appears to have increased due to recent migration from neighboring countries. A total of 159,626 doses of vaccine from the GAVI-funded yellow fever emergency vaccine stockpile has been released by the International Coordinating Group on Yellow Fever Vaccine Provision (YF-ICG) for the campaign.

President Obama on World AIDS Day: “make no mistake, we are going to win this fight”

Earlier today, President Obama spoke to commemorate World AIDS Day.  AIDS is nearing its end, but there is still work to be done stressed the President. This point is illustrated by the above data map from the Guardian’s Datablog. It tracks the change of HIV/AIDS rates in individual countries from 1990 to 2009 (also see a more interactive version).

In his remarks, the President touched on his vision for an AIDS free world and how it can be accomplished. The following are excerpts from his remarks that focus on the role of the United States in the global fight to eradicate AIDS.

Few could have imagined that we’d be talking about the real possibility of an AIDS-free generation. But that’s what we’re talking about. That’s why we’re here. And we arrived here because of all of you and your unwavering belief that we can — and we will — beat this disease.

Alere and PSI Use Social Media to Donate Up To Million HIV Tests

Today, PSI announced its new partnership with healthcare diagnostics company Alere Inc to deliver HIV Rapid tests. “An HIV test is a simple and reliable tool for knowing one’s HIV status and, if diagnosed positive, an important trigger for seeking proper care and encouraging one’s partner to get tested,” says Karl Hofmann, President and CEO of PSI. Alere has set the goal of donating one million tests to PSI through a new social media campaign. Every “like” on Facebook, “follower” on Twitter, or piece of artwork submitted to the campaign’s social media websites will lead to one donated HIV rapid test.


All of this will be a part of Alere’s “Make (+) More Positive” campaign. Since its launch at the International AIDS Society Conference in Rome, it has built a community of individuals living with or affected by HIV, artists, activists, and healthcare professionals who are committed to infusing the (+) sign with optimism.

Check out the Make (+) More Positive Campaign on:

By liking the Facebook page and following the campaign on twitter, you can enable two HIV Rapid tests to be donated today.

On World AIDS Day, Remember Women

By Elisha Dunn-Georgiou, Vice President of Advocacy at Population Action International

Joyce has 11 children.

Mary says this casually, as if it’s commonplace. And in her experience as a midwife in Uganda, it is.

For women in her community, contraception is largely out of reach. Employment is scarce, so families make ends meet by selling crops from their small gardens. They cannot afford the prices of family planning from private clinics.

“The demand for family planning is so high,” Mary explains. “It is really embarrassing for women to have these frequent deliveries when they have other possible ways of preventing them. So access to family planning should be the first priority.”

The situation Mary describes is not unusual; in fact, it is far too common.  215 million women worldwide are not using an effective method of contraception despite the fact that they want to avoid pregnancy.  The largest segment of these women live in sub-Saharan Africa and many are at risk of HIV.  Women account for 60% of people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, and young women between the ages of 15-24 are up to eight times more likely to be infected than men of the same age.

December 1st marks World AIDS Day and this year’s theme is “Getting to Zero.”  Much of this day will be focused on a celebration of new technology and science that can help prevent HIV through daily treatment and male circumcision.  And we should celebrate those advances – but we should also not lose sight of women who need both family planning and HIV services.

As Long as Homophobia Lives, AIDS Won’t Die

Mannasseh Phiri, executive director of Society for Family Health, the Zambia affiliate for PSI, writes an OpEd in Advocate for World AIDS Day. In it, he shares the story of how he overcame is own homophobia and why the pervasive view in Zambia is an obstacle to eliminating HIV/AIDS.

Everything changed the day I met Hayden Horner during a training I helped conduct for senior journalists from the southern Africa region in late 2005. Hayden raised his hand in the middle of a session I was leading on antiretroviral drugs. He stated that he had contracted HIV from having sex with multiple male partners, and was now using antiretrovirals. Later that day, I sat down with Hayden and listened to his story. I listened as he recounted the struggle he had faced trying to find information about HIV/AIDS to preserve not only his life, but the lives of his friends as well.

Hayden told me about his weekly “Hayden’s Diary” published on Plusnews; an online UN news service. In it he wrote with courageousness and feeling about his life as a young gay South African journalist living with HIV. As he spoke, he became more than simply another person living with HIV to me (and I had seen many.) He personified my failure as a physician — and as an activist — to protect the health and future of all Zambians.

Getting the Facts Straight on Male Circumcision

Our friends over at the Gates Foundation’s blog Impatient Optimist have a pair of posts on the topic of voluntary male circumcision as a tool to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.  One of the posts includes a smart interview with Luke Nkinsi, a senior program officer for HIV at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation who highlighted a program by PSI/Zimbabwe.

For some reason, this interview got commentors very riled up. They were aghast that a group like the Gates Foundation or PSI would be advocating for male circumcision as an HIV prevention tool.  Here’s a quick explanation of why circumcision is an important component of global HIV prevention efforts.

Healthy Dose World AIDS Day 2011

New Treatments for Children with HIV/AIDS

The success of reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV means that very few children have HIV. The few that do contract the disease are only now starting to be adequately provided the care that is appropriate for their size. VOA reports:

No children born with HIVHis situation reflects what children living with HIV/AIDS typically experience when receiving treatment. They often have to take many pills or bitter syrups and, commonly, adult dosages are divided into smaller parts for children, which can be dangerous if portions aren’t properly sized.

But for many children just beginning their regimens, all that is changing. At the end of 2006, UNITAID, a global health initiative to increase access to medicine in developing countries established by Brazil, France, Norway, Chile and Britain, started a project to spur demand for child-friendly AIDS medicines.

The result is one pill, designed to be taken twice daily, that combines up to 16 different medicines. The special fixed-dose combination is a first-line treatment primarily meant for children starting their regimen, and for roughly 26 of 114 AIDS orphans living at Nyumbani, the pill provides welcome relief.

The home’s executive director, Sister Mary Owens, says she is seeing a big difference.

“They had to take five, six, seven tablets — we had to break tablets, we had to open capsules,” she says, describing a typical daily regimen before the pill’s 2009 introduction. “Some of our children who went on anti-retroviral treatment after [the two-dose combination] became available are on one pill in the morning and one pill in the evening, so we’re very, very grateful for that.”