By Lung Vu, Research Advisor, HIV & TB and Rena Greifinger, Technical Advisor, Sexual Reproductive Health and TB
HIV has a devastating impact on men who have sex with men (MSM) in Nigeria.
“[B]ecause of stigma, discrimination, homophobia, and criminalization that MSM face in the course of their lives in many African countries, many are reluctant to access health care services and participate in research thus heightening their vulnerability to HIV infection,” says an article from the June 1 issue of the Journal of Acquired Immonudeficiency Syndromes (JSAIDS).
Led by PSI’s Lung Vu, the researchers found MSM to practice very high-risk behavior: having more than one sexual partner and high rates of unprotected sex, as well as many who have sex with both men and women. Many of these men suffer with internalized homophobia and are therefore less likely to access HIV prevention and treatment services. The researchers call for a combination prevention approach which includes biomedical (such as HIV counseling and testing and condoms), behavioral (such as mass media campaigns and education programs), and structural (such as advocacy to change discriminating policies) interventions.
A part of our goal is to keep you up to date on the latest happenings around the global health world. Here are a few quick stories and happenings from the PSI Laos office.
PSI Finds 136 TB Cases in 2012
With support from the National Tuberculosis Center and Ministry of Health, PSI Laos detected 136 new TB cases in 2012 thorough its Sun Quality Health network of franchised private sector clinics, mobile education activities, and peer education. PSI also mobilizes pharmacists to refer clients presenting with key TB symptoms to SQH for TB screening, which contributed close to a third of new cases last year. These achievements support the Lao government’s aim to detect more TB cases and achieve MDG 6.
In efforts to increase TB case detection, PSI Laos also worked with the NTC to train 97 private sector providers. The training were held at the provincial level with the goal of strengthening the private sector to detect and treat TB in 12 target provinces.
By Beth Skorochod, Senior Technical Advisor, Sexual Reproductive Health and TB Department, Population Services International
Pililani Julius is twenty-three years old, from Mtambalika village in the Mulanje district of Malawi. Already the mother of two children, Pililani recently lost her third child, a death likely due to pediatric HIV complications. At the time, Pililani did not know that she was HIV positive — meaning that she was unable to take life-saving treatment that could have prevented transmission to her baby.
Today, Pililani is pregnant with her fourth child — and, this time, she is armed with knowledge. Prior to becoming pregnant, Pililani and her husband had watched an open-air drama performance run by PSI/Malawi, which explained the importance of knowing one’s HIV status and of taking treatment to prevent transmission during pregnancy. Pililani and her husband are now on treatment, protecting their own health and future as well as that of the new baby on the way.
Pililani’s story is an important and hopeful reminder of one of the global health community’s greatest success stories: the prevention, and hopefully, soon-to-be elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Today, thanks to the combined efforts of governments, companies, NGOs, health professionals, researchers and everyday volunteers, more children are born free of HIV than ever before.
The following is the introduction to an interactive story from the Global Fund that tells of a community in South Sudan that is addressing the problem of malaria. The work highlighted is the result of cooperation between the Global Fund, PSI, the government of South Sudan and other partners. Read below to learn more and go here to see immerse yourself into the story.
On returning to their homeland after surviving two decades of war, the people of Morobo County in the new nation of South Sudan realized that they still had another battle to fight.
Malaria was killing many of their children.
Determined to save their babies, parents walked for dozens of kilometers to the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) or Uganda to seek treatment. Others didn’t have the money to make the trip or pay for treatment, so they turned instead to traditional healers. Time and again, the children would die in their mothers’ arms because the herbs traditional healers administered to their hapless little patients couldn’t cure malaria.
In 2010 PSI/Caribbean (PSI/C) saw the gap in noncommunicable disease prevention programming and took the opportunity to integrate NCD prevention into it’s sexual and reproductive health (SRH) service delivery program. With the support of International Planned Parenthood Affiliates in Antigua & Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago, PSI/C launched a referral card system at IPPF clinics to support the uptake of services by our target populations including Youth-atRisk, Males-at-Risk, Females-at-Risk and the Uniformed Population.
Since 2005, PSI/C has been working to measurably contribute to the development of favorable environments that facilitate healthy lives among the people of the Caribbean.
Through its innovative Got it? Get it campaign PSI/C has focused on HIV prevention–promoting condom use and availability. The organization has since expanded its activities into addressing sexual and reproductive health more broadly and continues to grow with the health challenges faced by the region, looking at ways to assist in addressing growing health priorities in noncommunicable disease prevention.
By Caster Dougherty - This originally appeared in the July 2010 edition of Impact Magazine. We are bringing back articles on women and girls to continue the momentum from International Women’s Day.
Once a subject of mainly academic interest, the role of girls and women in development has attracted interest far beyond specialist circles. Best-selling books and high-proﬁle international conferences are now devoted to ﬁguring out the best way to put The Second Sex, as Simone de Beauvoir once called females, at the center of eﬀorts to improve health and welfare.
This growing public attention to girls and women in the development ﬁeld has highlighted how intrinsic this gender-focused approach is to PSI’s work. At times, whether in the ﬁeld or at headquarters in Washington, the main challenge is to reﬁne PSI’s long-standing mission, a task that starts with awareness of exactly how central women and girls are to PSI’s work.
“We are doing a lot of work for women without recognizing what we are doing,” said Krishna Jafa, director of HIV, tuberculosis and reproductive health at PSI. “Often, until we think about the ‘girl eﬀect’ we do not consciously realize that we are doing it. But we are absolutely doing it, and I think we are doing it well.”
Research and development into medical breakthroughs are aided through federally funded programs like the National Institutes for Health. In fact, the NIH helped to fund the research led by Dr. Deborah Persaud of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center on a baby that was cured of HIV through ARV treatment immediately following birth. Thanks to the across the board cuts enacted through sequestration, such research will be directly impacted.
An article from CNN shows how the cuts could have impacted this research.
Chris Collins, vice president of public policy for amfAR, said there was a “cruel irony” to the timing of the HIV cure discovery and sequestration.
“As we’ve heard this exciting news about cure research, the entire AIDS research field is experiencing a significant cutback,” said Collins. “If we were in the business of ending AIDS, this would be the time to invest, not pull our resources out.”
The Obama administration has made it clear that the end of AIDS is possible. The President included a short section on development in his recent State of the Union address where he said:
[T]he United States will join with our allies to eradicate such extreme poverty in the next two decades: by connecting more people to the global economy and empowering women; by giving our young and brightest minds new opportunities to serve and helping communities to feed, power, and educate themselves; by saving the world’s children from preventable deaths; and by realizing the promise of an AIDS-free generation.
PEPFAR was launched by President Bush 10 years ago and it has proven to be an important program in getting closer to an AIDS-free generation. That is why advocates are coming together to urge the White House to maintain its commitment to an AIDS-free generation with a White House Petition.
We applaud President Obama’s statement in the State of the Union address that the promise of an AIDS-free generation is within our reach. The U.S. has long been a leader in this fight, and we know that we can reach this goal both at home and globally if enough resources are made available.
The needle-exchange movement has been an important development in the effort to reduce the spread of infectious diseases, especially HIV/AIDS, among drug users. A good amount of credit for the growth of the movement in the United States can be attributed to David Purchase. In fact, there are unconfirmed reports that Mr. Purchase’s needle exchange work in Tacoma, Washington beginning in 1988 was the first such offering in the United States.
A drug counselor, Mr Purchase used the $3,000 he won in a settlement after being struck by a drunk driver while on his motorcycle to begin to provide clean syringes to his clients. Sadly, Mr Purchase passed away from pneumonia on January 21 at the age of 73. His Point Defiance AIDS Project and the North American Syringe Exchange Network are responsible for keeping 15 million potentially harmful syringes off the streets each year.
How can HIV researchers conduct ethical clinical trials in developing countries?
, Cameroonian researcher Dr. Boghuma Kabisen Titanji begins with the story of a housewife in rural Cameroon who participated in a HIV clinical trial, but was unable to remain in it due to her inability to afford the bus fare to travel to the clinic.
This story illustrates the tension, to Titanji, between determining whether potentially life-saving drugs work and the greater needs of trial participants.
I do not stand here today to suggest in any way that conducting HIV clinical trials in developing countries is bad. On the contrary, clinical trials are extremely useful tools, and are much needed to address the burden of disease in developing countries. However, the inequalities that exist between richer countries and developing countries in terms of funding pose a real risk for exploitation, especially in the context of externally-funded research. Sadly enough, the fact remains that a lot of the studies that are conducted in developing countries could never be authorized in the richer countries which fund the research.