• What does it take to control an epidemic? Learning from Thailand’s experience

    Earlier this summer, the HIV/AIDS effort achieved a notable accomplishment that the rest of the public health community may have overlooked, missing an important learning opportunity. In June, the World Health Organization certified that Thailand achieved what was inconceivable just 20 years ago: elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Thailand is the first country with a generalized HIV epidemic to achieve this milestone, one that is crucial to epidemic control.

    Two decades ago, the HIV epidemic was expanding in Thailand. Use of antiretroviral drugs to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission was an expensive, newly discovered intervention that had barely been implemented in areas of the world where resources were limited and the disease burden was greatest.

    Despite these challenges, only 85 children were born with HIV infection in Thailand in 2015, compared to 1,000 children in 2000. This remarkable achievement resulted from a combination of essential factors:

    • Strong national leadership
    • A solid, functional health care system
    • A commitment to extending health care services to all people in the country, including undocumented individuals

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  • Strengthening civil society’s role in responding to violent extremism

    Preventing and countering violent extremism requires nothing short of an integrated, multifaceted, locally driven approach. FHI 360 has been working since 2008 with civil society groups in affected regions to prevent and respond to violent extremism. Recently, we discussed the lessons learned from our work at this year’s Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Partnership conference. The following is what we shared.

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  • Zika infection during pregnancy: Why we need gender and social norms changes for girls and young women

    A version of this post originally appeared on Devex. Reposted with permission.

    The link between Zika virus infection during pregnancy and birth defects poses yet another threat for girls and women of reproductive age in the Americas as they struggle to chart a positive course through life transitions.

    Unfortunately for girls and young women, the choice of whether or when to become pregnant is often not their own. Age and power dynamics heighten the impact of traditional gender and social norms for girls and young women and can inhibit informed decision making and positive sexual and reproductive health behaviors. Lack of empowerment leaves them more vulnerable to gender-based violence, increasing the risk of unintended pregnancy, while fear of discrimination from health providers or condemnation from family and community means girls and young women delay seeking and receiving contraception or antenatal care.

    The Zika virus is another threat for girls and women as they chart a positive course through life. Click To Tweet

    A public health response to the Zika virus must include addressing some of these root causes that preclude girls and young women from realizing their sexual and reproductive health choices — and social norms that inhibit contraceptive use for girls and young women need to be addressed in programming.

    Note: The authors would like to thank their colleagues from the Passages project team. FHI 360 is part of a team of global health organizations implementing this new reproductive health initiative in Asia and Africa, which aims to improve the healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies by youth and first-time parents in developing countries.

    Read the entire blog here.