Better Together: MSH World AIDS Day Celebration on Family Planning and HIV/AIDS Integration
On December 1, MSH joined the worldwide observance of World AIDS Day. MSH co-sponsored a Congressional briefing in Washinton, DC, “Better Together: Family Planning and HIV/AIDS Integration,” with the Global Health Council and a host of other organizations in coordination with the office of Congresswoman Lois Capps. Congressional staffers and representatives from global health organizations filled the room to hear singer-songwriter, actress, and Ambassador for Population Services International, Mandy Moore, Congresswoman Capps, and panelists from FHI 360, Population Services International, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and two Kenyan organizations, Okaalet & Associates and Liverpool, VCT discussed the importance of integrating family planning and HIV/AIDS services in the 30 year battle against the epidemic.
The main consensus about the integration of family planning and HIV/AIDS services in the fight against AIDS -- echoed in Mandy Moore's opening remarks, Congresswoman Lois Capps’ speech, and the panelists' presentations -- was that family planning is essential to HIV & AIDS prevention because it is a cost-effective prevention that increases access to services. From every speaker, there was a sense that integration was highly efficient treatment and the best response to coming budget constraints. For example, Congresswoman Capps commented that for too long work on HIV has been separated from the rest of the public health community’s work. She called for the integration and consolidation of public health services as a means to ensure proper use of scarce resources. Increased services through integration help lift the stigma of being tested and receiving treatment for HIV/AIDS, it was also noted, while at the same time strengthening maternal and child health.
MSH has long carried out the integration of family planning and HIV/AIDS services through worldwide programs and national initiatives, like the Integrated Primary Health Care Project (IPHC) it managed in South Africa. In 2008, the IPHC reached 15,400 young people with HIV testing, 183,000 with family planning information, and more than 56,000 with family planning methods. Through integration projects managed by MSH, the efforts of champions like Mandy Moore and Congresswoman Lois Capps, and the aforementioned organizations, an AIDS-free generation can become a reality.