Partnerships Help Defeat AIDS in Rwanda

By Dr. Anges Binagwaho, Minister of Health, Rwanda

The op-ed originally appeared in US News and World Report. It is based on an article she co-authored last week in the New England Journal of Medicine on the HRH program together with Paul Farmer, Eric Goosby and others. Available here.

binagwahoOver the past decade, we have made extraordinary gains against the world’s deadliest diseases thanks to the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. These initiatives are saving millions of lives every year. In order to make these gains truly sustainable, we must now address a critical challenge in low-income countries: an acute shortage of highly-trained health professionals.

While Sub-Saharan Africa bears 24 percent of the global disease burden, it’s served by only 4 percent of the global health workforce. As the World Health Organization just announced, the global health worker shortage stands at more than 7.2 million today and is expected to grow to 12.9 million by 2035.

A report that my colleagues and I published in the “New England Journal of Medicine” offers compelling new evidence about the power of partnership in helping Rwanda, my country, to overcome this obstacle. The Human Resources for Health program – financed by PEPFAR and The Global Fund – is building health care worker capacity in Rwanda over the next seven years to ensure that we can meet the pressing health challenges facing our people.

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Battling Stigma on World AIDS Day

By Paul T. Hempel – Sr. VP Ethics / Compliance, Alere Inc.

As I approach World AIDS Day 2012, just after Thanksgiving, I am reflecting about how much there is to be thankful for this year for those of us living with HIV. For more than a year now, we have known that, if properly treated, the spread of the disease drops by more than 96%, suggesting that there may be the possibility to end the spread of HIV. This year at the World AIDS Conference in Washington, there was talk of testing new drug therapies which might even lead to a cure within my lifetime. And more importantly, better access to good meds allows a longer lifespan for those of us living with HIV than at any time since its discovery.

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Victim of Sex Trade Inspires Others to Adopt Healthy Behaviors

The following post is by PSI Communications Coordinator Regina Moore and originally appears on the USAID Impact blog.

On World AIDS Day, I was reminded of a recent visit to Guatemala where I visited an old stretch of railroad called La Linea, which is now home to sex workers who rent tiny rooms for business each day.

Their business is a precarious one. The solicitation of sex in exchange for payment brings inherent and obvious health risks to individuals who engage in this behavior, but also for the community.  For those who make a living in commercial sex work, education is key to ensuring they are able to protecting themselves by reducing the risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Guatemala’s HIV prevalence rate is less than one percent among the general population. HIV in this country is classified as a “concentrated epidemic”, because cases are generally much higher among particular groups of people. One in every twenty sex workers in Guatemala is HIV-positive. Programs that educate these at-risk women on how to protect themselves will be critical to the country’s ability to keep the epidemic from spreading beyond this group to surrounding communities.

 

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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.

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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:
Facebook
Twitter
Website

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Condom Vending Machines To Fight HIV in Kigali

Placide Gatete of PSI Rwanda speaks to The New Times about the placement of condom vending machines in 34 locations throughout the capital city of Kigali. In total, 70 vending machines have been installed with the help of PSI. “Each machine has 56 packs of condoms, each pack with four pieces,” Gatete said.He added that

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