Health

  • Pandemic preparedness: Four strategies to keep HIV programs on track during COVID-19

    A little more than a month after World AIDS Day 2019, COVID-19 started to impact our HIV programs in Asia as countries like Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam began quarantine. Community testing ground to a halt. People living with HIV worried about access to their medications. HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) enrollment slowed. COVID-19 testing diverted laboratories from HIV services. By March 2020, the rest of the world was equally impacted. FHI 360’s HIV programs were determined to continue serving people, but there were deep concerns. We were not alone, of course; the global HIV community was facing COVID-19 together. But with so much uncertainty, we wondered: Would COVID-19 substantially set back hard-won gains toward epidemic control? Did we have the tools in hand, or could we develop the tools, to weather this crisis?

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  • It’s time to refocus on the global response to pediatric HIV

    We have come a long way from the haunting, early days of the HIV pandemic when hopelessness characterized the situation for children living with HIV. Without treatment available, approximately half of those children were destined to die before their second birthday. The global public health community did not know if it could halt transmission of HIV from mother to child. There were no effective, child-friendly formulations of antiretroviral therapy (ART).

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  • Five ways to keep COVID-19 messaging relevant this fall

    This fall, we face new challenges as COVID-19 overlaps with the flu season and continues to spread across the United States and the world. We must stay vigilant about protecting ourselves, our friends and families, and others around us. At the same time, people are experiencing pandemic fatigue and need new reasons and reinforcements to keep up protective behaviors.

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  • What can the United States learn from other countries to tackle disparities?

    As the COVID-19 pandemic swept over the United States, the stark observation that African-American, Hispanic and Native American populations were disproportionately affected was met with justified shock and anger. After all, the United States has the world’s largest economy, a high standard of living and a sophisticated health care system and is often held up as a model for many countries.

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  • How to prevent and control antimicrobial resistance

    Antimicrobial resistance — when bacteria stop responding to and become resistant to antimicrobial medications — is a global public health emergency with a substantial economic impact. Resistant bacteria, sometimes called superbugs, already claim 700,000 lives annually worldwide. If left unchecked, the death toll could reach 10 million per year by 2050, according to a recent United Nations report. The World Bank estimates associated global health care costs could increase more than $1 trillion per year by 2050.

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  • Model shows intersecting secondary impacts of COVID-19 in the United States

    The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States has been unlike anything most of us have seen in our lifetimes. Conditions such as stay-at-home orders, wearing masks in public and the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression affect all of us in different ways.

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  • Digital health applications in a changing world

    Digital communications and media are now part of everyday life for many people around the world. But while people have turned to smartphones for entertainment, socializing and commerce, the health community is still working to make services, outreach and treatment digitally accessible. Examining successful applications allows us to understand what approaches might be possible for digital health services. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more crucial than ever that digital health resources provide support for people to access from their homes.

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  • Put a ring on it: Four reasons to make the dapivirine ring an HIV prevention option for women and girls

    While much progress has been made to end the HIV epidemic, not enough has been done to put the power of prevention directly in women’s hands. The dapivirine ring, a flexible silicone ring inserted monthly into the vagina, can change this. If approved by regulators, the ring would be the first discreet, long-acting HIV prevention tool available specifically for women. The ring would complement daily oral HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as another biomedical tool in the fight against HIV.

    Recent evidence suggests significant acceptability of and demand for vaginal rings as a drug-delivery platform among women who used the dapivirine ring during clinical trials — and also among policymakers and other stakeholders in countries with a high HIV burden. To better understand these perspectives, the OPTIONS Consortium interviewed policymakers, implementers and civil society leaders in seven sub-Saharan African countries about possibilities for introduction and scale-up of the dapivirine ring. An analysis of the interviews shows widespread enthusiasm for the ring as part of comprehensive HIV prevention programming.

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  • How can community pharmacies improve access to HIV medications during COVID-19?

    The increased pressure on public health systems to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic affects all routine health care, including the provision of essential HIV services. People living with HIV require regular access to treatment, but crowded public health facilities carry increased risk of exposure to COVID-19. Routine treatment sites also may be harder to reach because of stay-at-home orders, curfews and public transportation shutdowns. To maintain gains in HIV epidemic control, we must ensure that people needing antiretroviral therapy (ART) continue to receive medication uninterrupted.

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  • The fight for health equity: Parallels between COVID-19 and HIV

    Although we cannot truly compare COVID-19 with HIV, there are similarities worth exploring. As the COVID-19 epidemiological data pours in, we have learned that communities of color are at heightened risk for hospitalization and death. With the reality that the economic fallout affects minority communities more than anyone else, it is clear the odds are against us yet again. We have seen this story play out throughout the course of the HIV epidemic, with LGBTQ, black and Latinx communities enduring the brunt of the disease’s burden. These health disparities are the result of structural inequities that our nation has not yet found the resolve to address. So, just as we did in the early days of HIV, we must arm ourselves with knowledge and a community-driven purpose to protect ourselves and those around us from COVID-19.

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