This past weekend's World Hepatitis Day raised awareness about the virus that killed 1.44 million people last year. That is nearly as many people that died from HIV. According to data from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington viral hepatitis killed more people than HIV in 117 of 187 countries around the world. This map from The Economist shows the countries where there more hepatitis or HIV deaths. Go here to interact with the data. Read more
Simple is a bit of an overused word in global health, but it does apply to the PrePex. The safe male circumcision device is only two plastic rings, a rubber band, and a thread. That’s it.
Male circumcision experts are pretty excited about the potential of PrePex. The research already shows that safe male circumcision can help to reduce the spread of HIV. Providing an easier and safer way to complete circumcisions is a powerful tool in finding a way to get to the end of AIDS.
Rwanda is one of a few African countries that are trying to increase the rate of male circumcisions as a part of its HIV reduction strategy. The New York Times recently discussed the work in Rwanda and PrePex.
(China) -Mrs. Deng, Director of the Wangzhou Community in Nanning, Guangxi, China devoted her whole life to community social work. In 2008, the Nanning Narcotics Control Committee (NNCC) began piloting community-based rehabilitation work among injecting drug users. However, Mrs. Deng had no idea how she could get this started in her community, let alone get injecting drug users to participate.
Mrs. Deng was informed by the NNCC in a meeting that PSI/China could help her implement community based rehabilitation. She was very excited and got in touch with PSI/China to set up the collaboration. Though she knew nothing about peer education, and did not know how she could work with injecting drug users to help them with their rehabilitation within the communities, she started to try things out with technical assistance and support from PSI/China.
The beginning was particularly hard for Mrs. Deng. She worked hard to convince a local injecting drug user named Ah Shu to participate in the program. Mrs. Deng started to assist Ah Shu in applying for low-income support and public housing benefits, and helped him solve other issues in his life.
By Agnès Aurore Balep, Editor, 100%Jeune Magazine, PSI/Cameroon; Martine Laurette Moguem, Assistant Editor, 100%Jeune Magazine, PSI/Cameroon; Rose Walsh, Program Assistant, West & Central Africa, Washington, D.C.
Geneviève Doukoya, a 22-year-old student at the University of Maroua, Cameroon, started on the road to a healthier life four years ago when she picked up an issue of 100%Jeune, a magazine created by youth for youth, addressing sexual and reproductive health issues.
About 35 percent of girls in Cameroon aged 15-24 face unwanted pregnancies and 3 percent of youth in that age group have HIV. The situation is aggravated by lack of dialog between children and parents about sexual and reproductive health, early marriage, rape and poverty.
But the 100%Jeune magazine inspired Geneviève. “When I finished reading that copy, it was like my eyes were opened. I started to see all of the dangers surrounding me,” she said. “I want to become a great woman, and I don’t want anything to hinder me from achieving that goal.”
By Marilyn Luke Urey, SMARTChoice Program Manager, PSI/Liberia; Meredith Gaffney, Program Manager, West & Central Africa, Washington, D.C.
Every year, an estimated 16 million girls ages 15-19 give birth, 95% of whom live in developing countries. Two million are left with chronic illness or disabilities that may bring them life-long suffering, shame and abandonment. Moreover, three million undergo unsafe abortions and 50,000 die due to complications during pregnancy or childbirth.
Although Liberia’s average national HIV prevalence rate is 1.5 percent, it is dramatically higher at 5.7 percent among young pregnant women between the ages of 15 and 24. This is no surprise, as many young women in Liberia engage in risky sexual behavior that increases their vulnerability to HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy. Men typically hold the decision-making power when it comes to using a condom, and nearly 40 percent of young women between the ages of 15 and 24 engage in transactional sex with a man who is 10 years older or more.
Whitney Davis, 18, could have been part of a startling statistic: by the age of 19, nearly 60 percent of all women in Liberia have started childbearing. However, Whitney doesn’t intend to add to this childbearing statistic.
(Thailand) – My name is Vanda. I am originally from Phichit, a province in the north of Thailand. I left home when I was 15 because my dad was not happy that I am a kathoei (transgender). I moved to Bangkok to stay with friends and started working at a bar in Silom. At that time I did not know about sexually transmitted diseases. When I went out with customers, I hardly used condoms. A year later, I moved to Pattaya and worked as a sex worker. I became addicted to Yaba (Amphetamines).
In September 2010, I was very ill with abscess and herpes. I went to Banglamung Hospital, where I was tested and found out I had HIV. Due to lack of ID card, I was unable to get antiretroviral therapy (ART). My weight dropped from 90 to 44 kg. I was so depressed and afraid to go back to my hometown.
The hospital staff introduced me to the USAID-supported Sisters center. I met with one Sisters staff and talked with her for many hours. She accompanied me to Glory Hut, where the Director Khun Ponsawan helped me with shelter and food and taught me how to treat Thrush and Candidiasis. Importantly, she helped me to get ART under the universal healthcare scheme.
(China) – He Kun Lin, was released from Changpo compulsory detoxification center in early 2011 and didn’t know what to do. He knew he didn’t want to return to Changpo and knew it was important not to relapse. Then a friend told him about the USAID-supported Huxianghao Ba (HXH) Drop in Center (DiC) in Kunming.
He attended a harm reduction interpersonal communications event and soon realized here was a place where he could be himself, feel safe and secure and receive important information to protect himself from HIV and STIs.
But he wanted to do more. He wanted to contribute directly and help similar newly released detainees of the compulsory detoxification center. He Kun Lin came to work as a volunteer at the HXH DiC in May 2011. Working for HXH has meant a new beginning for He Kun Lin as it has increased his sense of self worth, enabled him to reach more of his compatriots and encourage them to adopt risk reducing injecting behaviors and helped him become reintegrated back into society after his period of incarceration.
By PSI and the Peace Corps
The small West African country of Benin hosts over a hundred Peace Corps Volunteers serving in local communities as teachers, health and enterprise advisers and environmental educators. Volunteers work at a local level to support underserved people and communities in each of these sectors. From their local vantage point, Peace Corps Volunteers know that the delivery of primary health care in resource-constrained countries like Benin faces many challenges that negatively impact both the quality of care and the achievement of sustainable clinical and public health outcomes.
To address these challenges, Population Services International (PSI) and its affiliate Association Beninoise pour le Marketing Social (ABMS) have undertaken programs to improve the provision of quality of services and products in Benin’s health sector.
Peace Corps Benin and PSI have had a long partnership, which has evolved and matured over the past eight years. Initially Peace Corps assigned one or two Volunteers to work directly with PSI. While this partnership was fruitful, it had a limited impact, and did not involve the many other Peace Corps Volunteers in Benin, serving both in the Rural Community Health and other programs.
Recently, PSI has been able to broaden its relationship with Peace Corps Benin and extend to include other Volunteers and to increase the impact of their joint activities. This collaboration complements Peace Corps’ recent emphasis on partnerships, increased emphasis on technical training, and a more focused programmatic approach. Peace Corps Benin sees in PSI a partner who can help improve pre-service and in-service technical training modules, assist in the development of job aids and tools for Volunteers after training, provide continued technical support over a number of years, and offer a structure and/or framework for Volunteers to better deliver their messages or assistance.
Most couples don’t make getting tested for HIV part of their wedding plans. But when single parents Lovemore and Fungai got engaged, they decided it was a good idea before blending their families. Zimbabwe, where they live, is one of countries hardest hit by HIV.
Even still, they were shocked when the counselor at PSI’s New Start center gently told them that their test results weren’t the same. While Fungai tested HIV negative, Lovemore was diagnosed with the disease. This is their story.
Lovemore is a truck driver from Harare, Zimbabwe. “My son stays with his grandmother because I travel so much,” says Lovemore. “But I’m glad I can come home to him and to Fungai, who I hope to marry this year.”
Lovemore met Fungai a year ago through her aunt. “We had so much in common – both in our thirties, divorced with a child,” says Fungai, who lives with her daughter.
By Dr Karin Hatzold, MPH, Deputy Country Director, PSI/Zimbabwe
21 May 2013 (Zimbabwe) It looks like any other day at the New Start clinic in downtown Harare – a waiting area packed with clients about to be served by the team of 30 health care providers working at this site.
The PSI/Zimbabwe clinic offers services including HIV testing and counselling, a range of family planning methods, TB screening and diagnostic services, rapid CD4 cell count testing , HIV risk reduction counselling and male and female condoms.
But today is different. The site just opened its doors to HIV positive clients requiring treatment and care. The services, provided by a friendly team of doctors and nurses, are designed to serve those most vulnerable to HIV and least likely to have access to the highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART ) services they seek. These clients include sex workers, their families, discordant couples (where one partner is HIV positive and the other is HIV negative), pregnant HIV positive mothers and other vulnerable groups with difficulty accessing HIV treatment services in the public or private health sector.
This new treatment program, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), addresses the health needs of key populations currently not adequately met by the existing government-run health delivery system.