Tag Archives: Prevention

Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover visits HIV/AIDS programs in Tanzania

Danny Glover, UNICEF Ambassador and famous actor, traveled to Tanzania in July 2009 to support HIV testing efforts, counseling for PMTCT (prevention of mother-to-child transmission) and the fight against stigma in the country. Mr. Glover’s brother is HIV positive, and Mr. Glover sees the need for youth support clinics, testing, and a reduction in stigma. He also supports PMTCT efforts and the ongoing support for pregnant women who are HIV positive, including the involvement of their husbands or boyfriends.

During his visit to Tanzania, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover talks with a mother who has brought a child to a clinic and is waiting to be attended by a nurse.

During his visit to Tanzania, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover talks with a mother who has brought a child to a clinic and is waiting to be attended by a nurse.

Mr. Glover met with youth from the Zanzibar Association of People Living with HIV and AIDS and talked with people from the Zanzibar Youth Education Development and Environment Support Association, who provide a range of support services. Mr. Glover said that HIV stigma is “one of the most damaging” factors at work in Tanzania. We feel that this is true across the world, and we couldn’t agree more.

Read the full article here.

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Cause Celeb: Nigel Barker on HIV Prevention in Tanzania

Nigel Barker, best known for his appearances on America’s Next Top Model, has directed Generation Free, a documentary about fighting mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Tanzania. The video was available on TVGuide.com but isn’t any longer – if you know where you can view it on the web, please let us know. As sometimes happens with “cause celeb,” celebrities try hard but fail to capture the real facts or over-romanticize efforts. It sounds like this documentary tells the straight and hopeful truth about a real problem with (the key part) a real solution. Hopefully it will inspire others to work toward stopping it so that a generation of children can “live free.” Full article here.

Nigel Barker's Generation Free: AIDS Prevention in Africa

Nigel Barker's Generation Free: AIDS Prevention in Africa

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Uganda to Revamp its HIV Prevention Message

“We shall use basic facts in the messages to communicate effectively because we have realized that the level of knowledge about basic facts on HIV information is quite limited,” said Saul Onyango, senior health educationist with the Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC).

The UAC, after feeling that Uganda’s messages were less successful than hoped, will re-define high-risk sex from “sex with irregular partner” to “anyone whose HIV status is unknown.” An at-risk population now includes anyone engaged in risky sex. Generic warnings about risky sex will now be favored over targeted messages, such as those about inter-generational sex.

“We have to change the destiny of this country, even if it means putting back the drums of the 1980s that used to frighten people,” said UAC director-general, David Kihumuro Apuuli. The center of a 1980s radio campaign in Uganda featured an ominous drumbeat and “AIDS kills.” Some in Uganda would like to see fear-driven campaigns return, believing them to be successful. The other side of the debate worries that scare tactics do not lead to behavior change but encourage fatalism and discrimination.

Those in Uganda’s leadership also voice a worry rarely heard – that funding for HIV prevention programs largely comes from donors and is unsustainable.

A lot to think about. We recommend reading the full article here to gain the most insight.

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Independent Experts Conclude: Comprehensive Sex Ed Works

“At long last, evidence and common sense have returned to public-health policy,” said James Wagoner of Advocates for Youth. “The task force report endorses the comprehensive approach to prevention that includes condoms and birth control. We should be spending taxpayer dollars only on evidence-based programs.”

AIDSTanzania supports the findings of this study, and it’s good to see comprehensive sex education finally get the credit it deserves. Read the full article here.

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HIV Awareness Campaign Yields Results in Tanzanian Village

None of the 2,500 out of 15,000 villagers in Rusaba Village, Kasulu District, Kigoma Region, tested positive for HIV this year between July and September. Local health workers had never come upon such results. They attribute it to an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign conducted by Tanzania Red Cross and Action Aid International, low interaction between villagers and outsiders, and close-knit family structures.

Depending on the size and diversity of the population tested, HIV infection rates can appear distorted. AIDSTanzania, for example, has tested in rural villages during our trips to the Arusha area. In one village, of 100 people tested there were zero positive tests. At face value this is great news. However, a number of factors could be at play: HIV-positive people who know of their infection are usually not going to get tested again; those who suspect they have HIV are afraid to come forward and get tested; and with only 100 tests available, tests go to the aware individuals who show up early because they are already thinking about HIV prevention.

Because the testing in Rusaba Village was of 2,500 of 15,000 people over a period of a few months, we can be confident that it was a representative sample of villagers. These results, and the influential HIV awareness campaign, are something to keep in mind as we work to prevent HIV, encourage testing, and spread education.

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First, a vaccine in Thailand…now, one in Tanzania?

An article on Physorg.com reveals the results of a small Phase II HIV vaccine

HIV Virus

HIV Virus

trial in Tanzania: “An HIV vaccine tested in Tanzania has shown positive results in preliminary trials and may provide better protection than a promising Thai vaccine unveiled on September 24, Swedish researchers said Monday.” (Read the full article here).

One of the reasons for the increased success (up to 50% protection vs. 30% in the Thailand study) is that this vaccine included more strains of the virus. The vaccine was tested in 60 healthy Tanzanian policemen. The results will be presented at an HIV/AIDS vaccine conference in Paris on Wednesday.

So much in the news lately about HIV vaccines, and now Tanzania has been involved as well. We’ll have to watch closely over the next few months to see if this trial moves to Phase III (a larger-scale investigation) or if anything substantial comes out of the Thailand trial.

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Optimism Surrounding HIV Vaccine Trial – Thailand

News sources everywhere are publishing optimistic headlines about the largest ever HIV vaccine trial going on right now in Thailand. But how excited should we really be? An article from UNAIDS spells out exactly what’s going on, and what it means for the world.

The study results reveal that there is a 31.2% vaccine efficacy in preventing HIV infections. While this can only be charaterized as modestly effective, these results represent new hope in HIV vaccine development. Basically, the vaccine in question, RV144, cannot be put on the market, but the data collected in Thailand this September could serve as an important foundation for the discovery of a highly effective vaccine.

The article also mentions another obstacle standing in the way of RV144; researches yet need to illucidate weather RV144 would be applicable to other regions of the world where different HIV subtypes are predominant against different host genetic backgrounds.

UNAIDS and WHO stress that until a highly effective vaccine becomes available, proven preventative messures should still be practiced.

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“Behavior Change and HIV Prevention: [Re]Considerations for the 21st Century”

The Global HIV Prevention Working Group published a report in August 2008 about the efficacy of behavior-base HIV prevention and the myths behind HIV prevention efforts in general.  They argue that better and wider application of behavior change strategies are the only way to reverse the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

As our group has recently transitioned from “ABC” to “Behavior Change,” this report is really insightful on how AIDSTanzania can improve our strategies on the ground and campaign for better policies.  The report can be found here.

“The Global HIV Prevention Working Group is a panel of over 50 leading public health experts, clinicians, biomedical and behavioral researchers, advocates, and people affected by HIV/AIDS, convened by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. The Working Group seeks to inform global policy-making, program planning, and donor decisions on HIV prevention, and to advocate for a comprehensive response to HIV/AIDS that integrates prevention, treatment, and care. More
information and Working Group publications are available here.”

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For the science-minded people…

The AIDS Reader is a scientific journal, with information on prevention and treatment of HIV.   Check it out if you’re a science person!

http://theaidsreader.consultantlive.com/home

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Needle Exchange Programs

As someone who volunteered for a summer at the Berkeley Needle Exchange, I know how effective these honest and socially responsible programs can be. Here is an excellent editorial on the subject. 

Devin

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