Twenty years ago, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was established to lead the global response to the HIV epidemic. Today, PEPFAR is a public health engine: a critical platform for strengthening health systems, preparing for and responding to pandemics, and enabling global health security. Here, we share how PEPFAR made it possible for FHI 360’s teams to effectively respond to COVID-19 in countries with established HIV infrastructure.
Shaping the world we want to live inAn Interview with
Dr. Timothy Mastro, Chief Science Officer, FHI 360
As FHI 360 marks its 50th anniversary, explore our history of solutions and future of possibilities.
Dr. Timothy Mastro, FHI 360’s Chief Science Officer, offers his perspective on where we’ve been, where we’re going and what’s at stake in human development.
As Black American public health professionals, we know that one pervasive question for Black Americans today is, “So, are you getting the COVID vaccine?”
Put a ring on it: Four reasons to make the dapivirine ring an HIV prevention option for women and girlsWritten by
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.
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.
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.