HIV & AIDS

 {Photo credit: Eric Miller}Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, accepts the offer to wear an HIV-Positive T-shirt.Photo credit: Eric Miller

(Also see MSH's official statement mourning the death of Nelson Mandela. —Eds.)

I am only one of thousands of young South Africans who left our country in our teen years, fleeing persecution for our political beliefs and actions, and believing that by leaving our country we would regroup and come back to contribute to the overthrow of the apartheid, racist regime.

Did we really believe that would happen?

I must say that the overwhelming urge for us to go on with the struggle and belief was the specter of Nelson Mandela addressing us in “Freedom Square” one day soon. What was most amazing about Madiba is that, for decades, we led protest marches all over the world without even knowing what he looked like, for the regime had banned all pictures of him and all we had was an artist’s impression of what he should have looked like.

{Photo by Warren Zelman}Photo by Warren Zelman

Advancing a health systems strengthening approach to HIV & AIDS requires advocacy and education, especially of decision makers. In honor of World AIDS Day 2013 (December 1, observed in some places December 2) we invite you to commemorate the day wherever you are, and help our global family achieve an AIDS-free generation.

{Photo credit: Warren Zellman}Photo credit: Warren Zellman

I remember attending the Durban international AIDS conference in 2000, my first. That was the one where everything was going to turn around and we were going get a handle on the epidemic. Nelson Mandela spoke at that one, in a hall that was the size of three football fields. And the crowd was joyous, raucous, the noise was deafening and it was one of the most memorable days of my life. 

Before Mandela took the stage, a choir made up of kids—none more than 9 or 10 years of age and many much younger—took the stage to sing tribute to the great man and those of us gathering there.

It was charming and sweet. Everyone had a huge grin on their faces. And then I realized that this group of kids was special, maybe overheard someone nearby or perhaps the MC say that this, “was THAT group.” All were infected with the virus, and as I watched these gorgeous children singing so strong, moving and smiling and clapping with everyone, I knew, knew inside, that they probably wouldn’t live much longer.

 {Photo: Lourdes de la Peza}Keziah Samaila from Township Clinic, left, and Joy Otuokere, right, from Zuba Health Center, singing during the LDP+ training in Gwagwalada, Nigeria.Photo: Lourdes de la Peza

This post originally appeared on USAID’s IMPACT blog. USAID is observing World AIDS Day this year by celebrating ten years of HIV and AIDS work under PEPFAR.

More than 85,000 infants in Nigeria are at risk of HIV transmission from their mothers every year. While the number of HIV-positive pregnant women who receive antiretroviral treatment (ART) is increasing, robust efforts to improve coverage are needed if national targets (PDF) for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) are to be met in 2015.

 {Photo by DCGEP via Facebook.com/InsideStory}Watching "Inside Story".Photo by DCGEP via Facebook.com/InsideStory

Great news for US-based viewers: The Discovery Channel Global Education Partnership (DCGEP) released the award-winning Pan-African feature film, Inside Story, on September 17 for digital download on platforms such as iTunes, Google Play, Comcast, and Amazon. Inside Story premiered in South Africa on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2011.

"Inside Story is making a huge impact on audiences across Africa and we are thrilled to bring this film and its unique approach to the US and the rest of the world," says DCGEP President and Executive Producer Aric Noboa. "Inside Story reveals HIV/AIDS in a way that’s personal, practical and memorable through a lens that is both entertaining and educational. Audiences stand up and cheer in the theater because it’s a great story, and at the same time everyone walks away with a fresh perspective on HIV.”

 {Photo credit: MSH}Kenyan youth holds AIDS education pamphlet.Photo credit: MSH

The Kenya National AIDS and STI Control program (NASCOP) under the Ministry of Health (MOH) disseminated preliminary results of the Kenya AIDS Indicator Survey (KAIS) 2012 on September 10, 2013. The dissemination conference was attended by all major stakeholders in the HIV and AIDS response in Kenya, including Management Sciences for Health (MSH).

The second such report, the KAIS 2012 (PDF) provides national data in comparison with the first survey in 2007.  Overall, huge improvements have been made, despite the remaining challenges and the gender, age group and geographical disparities that have persisted.  Adult HIV prevalence dropped from 7.2 percent in 2007 to 5.6 percent in 2012. The total number of people living with HIV is now estimated at 1.2 million, down from 1.4 million in 2007. Among children 18 months to 15 years, the prevalence was estimated at less than one percent (0.9 percent), which translates into about 104,000 children living with HIV in 2012. 

MSH Global Technical Lead on HIV & AIDS, Scott Kellerman, MD, MPH, has a new article published today in the PLOS Medicine magazine.

Scott Kellerman and colleagues argue that the scope of the current HIV elimination agenda must be broadened in order to ensure access to care and treatment for all children living with HIV.

In 2011, despite the global initiative to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV, 330,000 new pediatric infections were added worldwide to the existing pool of 3.4 million children living with the virus. Children are more vulnerable to HIV infection and have higher morbidity and mortality. Without treatment, half of those children infected will die before the age of 2 years, yet only one third of those eligible for treatment are currently receiving antiretroviral therapy.

{Photo credit: Todd Shapera, Rwanda}Photo credit: Todd Shapera, Rwanda

OVCsupport.net, a global knowledge sharing website, is announcing its second annual writing contest, open to all those who have a story to tell about working with children affected by HIV and AIDS. The annual competition is one component of OVCsupport.net’s efforts to facilitate the exchange of ideas and experiences between people who are working in the field of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). The top three submissions will be featured on the site and in the August edition of the site’s electronic newsletter.

According to UNAIDS, more than 14 million children worldwide have lost one or both parents to HIV. The thousands of organizations that provide services to these children often do not have the mechanism to share experiences or receive information on best practices from one another. OVCsupport.net provides a way for these organizations to connect with one another and have access to cutting edge information. The annual writing contest is an opportunity for local organizations and writers to make their voice heard in the global forum.

{Photo credit: Genaye Eshetu/MSH}Photo credit: Genaye Eshetu/MSH

Strengthening health systems at all levels is the core of MSH’s response to the HIV epidemic. We build organizational capacity to implement innovative HIV, prevention, care, and treatment interventions in over 35 countries---from Côte d'Ivoire to Ethiopia to Vietnam.

So, how will high-burden, low-resource countries respond to the new World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines that recommend starting HIV treatment earlier? Will the global AIDS movement join forces with those calling for universal health coverage (UHC) targets post-2015? How are civil society organizations working with countries on the HIV & AIDS response---and how can we strengthen their capacity?

The July/August edition of MSH's Global Health Impact Newsletter (subscribe) answers these questions and more, combining thought-provoking editorials and first-hand accounts from MSH countries around the world.

{Photo credit: LMS Haiti/MSH}Photo credit: LMS Haiti/MSH

Today, as we celebrate International Youth Day and the theme of “Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward,” we are reminded of difficult situations millions of young people experience every day—and of the power young people have to create change in their lives when they connect with their peers.

Adolescents and young men and women need access to quality, affordable reproductive health services. In the developing world, 52 million never-married women, aged 15-24, are sexually active and in need of reproductive health and HIV prevention services and information. Yet, adolescent girls often face greater barriers than adult women in accessing them. In the sub-Saharan Africa region, only 21 percent of married adolescents are using a modern contraceptive method; and the adolescent birth rate in the region is four times the rate in Europe and Central Asia. In the Latin America region, teenagers have doubled their proportion of the fertility rate from 8.5 percent in 1955 to 14.3 percent in 2005, despite a steady decline in overall fertility numbers.

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