Tagged: HIV

  • World AIDS Day 2012: A Shared Vision of Getting to Zero

    FHI 360 has been partnering toward an AIDS-free generation since the beginning of the epidemic. As we approach World AIDS Day 2012, FHI 360 experts examine next steps needed to tackle HIV/AIDS for good. We’ll discuss new enhancements in the testing and treatment of women during pregnancy and in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. We’ll also take a look at the HIV treatment cascade and how it can help people to take the initiative to learn their HIV status and close some of the gaps in treatment and service. Finally, we will share perspectives from the field with a program profile and success story.

    As we look to the future, from our work in Cambodia to Kenya to the U.S., FHI 360 will continue to partner toward a shared vision of “getting to zero.”


  • A version of this post originally appeared on Natural Medicine. Reposted with permission.

    A new study published in the on line journal Nature Medicine over the weekend brings exciting news in the race to find an AIDS vaccine. Researchers from the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) have found that a key change in the outer coating of the HIV virus allowed two HIV positive women to develop “broadly neutralizing antibodies,” which are antibodies that can be used to target and fight most strains of HIV.

    The first broadly neutralizing antibodies were discovered over three years ago, and since then dozens more have been identified. But until now, researchers haven’t been able to pinpoint how they develop, which is critical to developing a vaccine. The new findings establish a link between a change in the virus after infection and the formulation of the antibodies that fight it.

    According to Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the study is “an important step in trying to understand just how these broadly neutralizing antibodies evolve.”

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  • Ending AIDS Among Latino Americans: ¡Sí se puede!

    The past three years have seen tremendous breakthroughs in HIV prevention research. Since 2009, we have seen the first vaccine to show effectiveness, a microbicide that was found to be modestly efficacious and two studies demonstrating that an HIV medication could be used as a pre-exposure prophylaxis or could reduce new infections by treating those with HIV earlier. These advances have led many to herald a new era in our 30-year campaign to end the epidemic.

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  • The Co-founder of National HIV Testing Day asks, “Why do we need a special day for HIV testing?"

    Today, June 27, is National HIV Testing Day in the United States. It is an observance that is now recognized in many countries around the globe. Why set aside a special day for something that should be a routine part of medical care for people at risk of getting HIV? Because ending the stigma of HIV and creating multiple opportunities for testing is an urgent need in our effort to create an AIDS-free generation.

    In the late 1980s, many of my friends had died of AIDS or were very sick. The decision to get an HIV test was not an easy one. But in 1986, I went for an HIV test at Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington, DC, because it was important for me to know my HIV status. This was at a time when there were few treatment options, and the testing process involved a long and scary wait for your results. In 1995, I worked with my colleagues at the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) and we created National HIV Testing Day. This effort was designed to help reduce the stigma of HIV testing and to normalize it as a component of regular health screening. At that time, there was a lot of fear about testing. Because there were few treatments, many thought it unnecessary. People who were known to be HIV positive were subjected to being fired from their jobs or becoming victims of violence. At NAPWA, we believed it was important to confront this situation by encouraging people to “Take the Test, Take Control.” We also believed that the more of us who stood up, the less the world would be able to ignore the epidemic.

    Last week, members of parliament in Zimbabwe provided the type of leadership needed in the United States and worldwide to end the stigma of HIV testing. Over 47 legislators, and 60 of their staff, underwent voluntary counseling and public testing for HIV in an effort to encourage other citizens to follow suit. As a result, Blessing Chebundo, chairman of the Zimbabwe Parliamentarians Against AIDS, told SW Radio Africa that, “181 people went through the doors for testing, and 23 men underwent circumcision (proven to reduce the risk of HIV infection).”

    Today, there are dozens of treatments available to keep people with HIV healthy. There is excitement also about the progress we are making in biomedical prevention interventions such as circumcision, PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and treatment as prevention. HIV testing itself is easier and quicker with results available in 20 minutes. The promise of these new opportunities begins with everyone knowing their HIV status without fear of discrimination, stigma or violence.

    To learn more about National HIV Testing Day, visit the website here.

  • FANTA – A Technical Assistance Program that Improves Nutrition for People Living with HIV

    Arénia Massingue is a master trainer from the National Nurses Association in Mozambique (Associação Nacional de Enfermeiros em Moçambique [ANEMO]). Massingue, who was trained by the Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance (FANTA) project on home-based nutrition care for people living with HIV (PLHIV), explains how what she learned helped her work: “We can now see a change in behavior among our beneficiaries. Before health activists started educating them about nutrition, there was a common belief that eating well was eating purchased goods. For example, many believed that the best fruit juice was the one they bought from the store, even though they had oranges in their garden. Now they know that the oranges in their garden can produce a juice that is not only cheaper, but also more nutritious.”

    Since being trained by FANTA, ANEMO master trainers trained 55 community-based organization (CBO) trainers. To date, the CBO trainers have trained 440 heath activists, home-based health care workers who provide counseling to PLHIV. PLHIV are counseled on the importance of using locally available foods in a balanced diet, management of HIV-related symptoms through diet, and potential drug-food interactions. Health activists also provide cooking demonstrations using recipes they learned during the training to help PLHIV meet their increased energy needs and eat a balanced, healthy diet. ANEMO, the Ministry of Women and Social Welfare and Ministry for Health are also working in collaboration with FANTA to integrate nutrition into the government’s official training curriculum for home-based care workers.

    FANTA is a project that works globally to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable groups through technical support to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and its governmental and nongovernmental partners. The project improves nutritional outcomes by strengthening policies, programs and systems for maternal and child health and nutrition, nutrition and HIV and other infectious diseases, food security and livelihood strengthening, agriculture and nutrition linkages, and emergency assistance during nutrition crises.

    For more information about FANTA, email the project at fantamail[at]fhi360.org.

  • Getting Closer to an AIDS-Free Generation

    May 18th is HIV Vaccine Awareness Day (HVAD), an annual observance that recognizes the contributions of thousands of volunteers, community members, health professionals, scientists, and experts in the HIV/AIDS field who are committed to working together to find an HIV vaccine. This year, we acknowledge the participation of thousands of trial volunteers who have made the research possible, and we highlight recent progress that gives us hope that controlling this epidemic is within our reach.

    Great strides have been made in the three decades since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the first cases of what we know today as HIV/AIDS. What was considered a death sentence in the early 80s is now a manageable chronic condition for those living with HIV who have access to medications. However, about 30 million people globally have died as a result of HIV/AIDS, and 50,000 Americans still become infected every year. Despite the profound impact this disease continues to have in our communities, new developments in HIV prevention efforts inspire us with the hopeful expectation of an AIDS-free generation.

    Recent advances in biomedical HIV prevention research have included microbicides and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Microbicides are gels or creams that both women and men can use topically to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV. Other products, such as films, suppositories, vaginal rings or sponges, are also being developed to release the active ingredients in the body over time. The microbicides that have proven to be partially effective to date contain an anti-HIV drug known as Tenofovir. PrEP is an approach that involves the use of oral anti-HIV drugs taken by uninfected individuals to prevent HIV infection if exposed to the virus. One drug, known as Truvada, has been shown to be effective in some populations. Consequently, on May 10, an advisory committee recommended that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approve the use of Truvada as part of PrEP to prevent sexually transmitted HIV-1 infection. While both of these prevention strategies have varying degrees of protection against HIV, adding a safe, effective and durable vaccine to the combination of available prevention tools remains our best hope to ending the pandemic.

    Scientists believe that it will take more than one approach to control the spread of HIV in the world. PrEP, microbicides and HIV vaccines, along with other proven prevention methods such as the regular use of condoms, are essential components of a comprehensive approach to global HIV prevention efforts. But, the success of the research in all these areas greatly depends on community participation and involvement as well as establishing trusting relationships within the communities most affected by HIV.

    Collaboration among scientists, community leaders, and advocacy groups is essential for the fight against HIV/AIDS. In January 2012, the Be The Generation Bridge (BTG Bridge) program was funded by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to help increase awareness and understanding of biomedical HIV prevention research, including HIV vaccines. To learn more about this research and view community profile videos, visit www.youtube.com/bethegeneration.

  • A great international exchange program goes beyond sharing knowledge and ideas. It empowers participants to become agents of change in their own communities. Through Felix Masi’s participation in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), he received leadership and media training from US Government officials and prominent youth and non-profit leaders. This training motivated him to document the story of a community’s personal response to the global AIDS epidemic.

    Felix, a Kenyan-born American, used the ideas he gained through IVLP, funded by the U.S. Department of State, to share the story of a challenge he witnessed growing up in Kenya. In rural Western Kenya, many children lose their parents to AIDS, and grandmothers often assume the burden and care for the orphaned children. His documentary, “A Grandmother’s Tribe,” tells the story of resilience and sacrifice in the face of a lost generation.

    Further leveraging the skills honed during his exchange program, Felix founded Voiceless Children to help teach Kenyan caregivers life skills that promote self-sufficiency. To date, Voiceless Children has helped provide education and shelter for over 40 families in Western Kenya and Kibera, Kenya’s poorest slum. We are proud of program alumni like Felix, leaders who use these exchange programs to develop entrepreneurial and leadership skills that benefit not only themselves but also their communities.

    Please join us on Thursday, May 10th at 5:30pm in FHI 360’s Globe Theater for a screening of “A Grandmother’s Tribe,” followed by a panel discussion featuring Felix and other distinguished speakers. A special viewing of a follow-on video that tracks the progress of the grandmothers will also be shown. Please RSVP here.

    Homepage banner image from Borderless Productions.

  • The Stories Behind the Statistics

    “The Stories Behind the Statistics” is a series put together for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation‘s blog “Impatient Optimists” by the Interagency Youth Working Group (IYWG). The IYWG, housed here at FHI 360, provides technical leadership to improve the reproductive and sexual health of young people. The following posts were originally posted on “Impatient Optimists” and are reposted here with permission. All photos courtesy of the Gates Foundation.


    • Young People and HIV

      Last August, during World Youth Day in Madrid, I was conducting outreach to encourage Catholic youth to use condoms. It was there that I heard one of the most frightening things ever: One young man told me that an HIV-positive person had no right to have sex...

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    • Family Planning for Young Women

      I lead a support group for mothers ages 12-19, in Kenya. Most of the mothers I work with are out-of-school youth; many live on the streets, work in the informal economy, or are orphaned. As a part of our support program, we provide weekly peer-to-peer sessions focusing on uptake of antenatal care...

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    • Youth Reproductive and Sexual Health

      By the end of today, 2,500 young people will become infected with HIV and 1,400 girls and women will die in childbirth...

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  • STOP TB in My Lifetime — World TB Day

    Greetings to all! I recently had the opportunity to work with colleagues from FHI 360 and the National Tuberculosis Program (NTP) and National AIDS Program (NAP) in Indonesia. FHI 360 is a collaborating partner for USAID-sponsored work in Indonesia under the project called TB CARE I. We work with the Dutch organization KNCV, the World Health Organization and others to focus on integrating tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/AIDS activities and to improve access to TB care and treatment within prisons across that large and complex country.

    Why are we at FHI 360 so focused on TB-HIV/AIDS integration? For a number of years, we have been working with governments to build stronger HIV/AIDS programs around the globe. What we and others have learned is that the number-one killer of people living with HIV/AIDS is TB. There is a very close, causal link between TB and HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS makes it many times more likely that a person will get sick with or die from TB. In addition, TB makes the HIV/AIDS virus replicate even more quickly, leading to further immune suppression and AIDS-related illness and death. Recent published research has shown that life-saving interventions include rapid initiation of TB treatment after diagnosis and rapid initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) after TB treatment gets started. Furthermore, isoniazid preventive treatment (IPT) can save lives by keeping people with HIV/AIDS from getting TB. An even more powerful approach for individuals already infected with the HIV virus is to get them started on ART before their immune systems become too weak.

    In addition to my key objective of reviewing our TB-HIV/AIDS activities and the prison program, I served as a plenary speaker at the Indonesia Infectious Diseases Update Symposium in Malang, Indonesia. I also provided lectures and on-site consultation for members of the NTP, NAP and FHI 360 staff, focusing on multi-drug resistant TB, TB-HIV/AIDS and IPT. Our discussions showed how challenging it is to implement good programs with limited resources.

    Other TB-related issues are also critical to solve. These include improving universal access to high-quality TB diagnosis and treatment, preventing spread of disease from one person to the next — especially within hospitals and clinics — and identifying and preventing disease among young children, who are at high risk for severe TB. USAID-TB CARE I provides funding to FHI 360 to work on these and related issues in Cambodia, Indonesia, Mozambique, Nigeria and Zambia.

    In keeping with the theme for World TB Day 2012, “STOP TB in My Lifetime,” I want to see the epidemic of TB-HIV/AIDS become a distant memory. I am happy to report that my colleagues in Indonesia are working hard to make this come true.

    World TB Day is Saturday, March 24, 2012. For more information, please visit the Stop TB Partnership’s World TB Day site.