Tagged: HIV

  • SMARTgirls: Voices from Cambodia

    This month, Degrees is sharing stories from participants in SMARTgirl, an FHI 360-led program aimed at preventing and mitigating the impact of HIV among entertainment workers living in Cambodia. The program provides peer education and social support, and improves access to HIV and reproductive health services. SMARTgirl treats entertainment workers respectfully and celebrates their positive qualities. SMARTgirl is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).


    • Somany’s struggles

      Twenty-three-year-old Somany is a transgender entertainment worker who has HIV. Social stigma from the community and ostracism from her family leave Somany with a deep sense of loneliness and isolation. Speaking candidly to a SMARTgirl support group, she related how every day feels like a...

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    • Lang’s secret

      My name is Lang. My parents and friends back in my hometown don't know what I'm really doing here in Phnom Penh. They think I'm studying English and training in a wedding reception center...

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    • Sopheap’s strength

      Sopheap was born male but, at age 10, realized she identified as a girl. Because Sopheap’s parents feared other people’s responses, she wore boys’ clothing until age 17 “because I had to go to school and my parents didn’t like me wearing girls’ clothes.” Since then, Sopheap’s parents have...

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    • Sineng’s diagnosis

      Sineng, 21, works in a beer hall in Phnom Penh, where her job is to serve and entertain men. Sometimes she sells sex to make extra money. In the last month, she was diagnosed with HIV. Sineng fears how the virus will affect her health, her relationships and her job. Afraid and timid, she stood...

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    • Nguyen’s Day

      Twenty-six-year-old Nguyen's1 husband is a shoemaker, but his income of approximately 40 U.S. dollars a month is not enough to support them and their two children. To help make ends meet — including paying the monthly rent of 30 dollars on their one-room home — Nguyen supplements the household...

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    • Kimthy’s Story

      My name is Kimthy1 and I’m living far from home, where my son and mother are. I’m selling sex in Phnom Penh, and it’s a lifestyle I want to keep quiet about. My hometown community already dislikes me, so I’m not going to tell them what I do or that I’m HIV positive...

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    • Celebrating International Women’s Day all month

      Today is International Women’s Day. Rather than celebrate it for just one day, FHI 360 will pay tribute to women throughout the month of March by sharing stories from participants in the SMARTgirl program...

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  • World AIDS Day 2011

    In observance of World AIDS Day on December 1st, we will be sharing personal perspectives on how HIV has impacted our lives over the last 30 years and where we will be in the future. Check back each day until World AIDS Day for posts and videos from our staff.

    Share your perspectives: How has HIV impacted your life over the last 30 years?

     us your perspectives and thoughts. Include #WorldAIDSDay and @FHI360 to add to the conversation.


    • Who Gets the HAART? Policy Implications for a Limited Resource

      The rapid scale up of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) for HIV infection has been a global health success. On World AIDS Day (December 1, 2011), UNAIDSestimates we currently have 6.6 million HIV-infected people on antiretroviral agents (ARV), a number that was inconceivable less than...

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    • FHI 360’s HIV/AIDS Work in Action

      For the last 30 years, FHI 360 has been committed to addressing the impact of HIV/AIDS in all corners of the world through solid research and innovative programs...

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    • Visioning the End of AIDS

      During the past few years, the world has made remarkable progress toward defeating the HIV epidemic. According to reports from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), new HIV infections have dropped 21 percent since 1997 and deaths from AIDS-related illnesses have decreased by 21...

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    • HPTN 052 Study: Implications for Treatment as Prevention

      Leading up to World AIDS Day, there have been rallying calls to scale up HIV prevention and treatment services around the world. When it comes to treatment as prevention, there is little doubt that the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 052 study has played an important role in furthering our...

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    • Non-communicable Diseases on World AIDS Day: What’s the Connection?

      Peter Lamptey, President of Public Health Programs at FHI 360, discusses the link between HIV and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and why FHI 360 is investing in developing platforms to help manage the burden of NCDs.

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    • Magic’s HIV Announcement (20 years ago)

      Recently, I was reminded that my research on HIV started 20 years ago and at the time, I didn’t know it. November 7th, 1991 was the day that Magic Johnson announced that he was/is HIV positive...

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  • Innovation is key to expanding contraceptive choice

    Contraceptive technology has come a long way, but there is still much more work that needs to be done to increase women’s access to safe and effective contraceptive choices.

    Since Margaret Sanger overturned anti-contraceptive legislation in 1936, making it legal for doctors to provide diaphragms and spermicides to women, researchers have been working to develop improved contraceptive methods. Oral contraceptives were introduced to the public in the 1960s and paved the way for future innovation. Today, contraceptive hormones are delivered in a variety of ways, including through implants, long-acting injections, patches and vaginal rings.

    Yet there is still a gap in contraceptive technology that FHI 360 is working to fill – an effective, safe, easy-to-use, and low-cost vaginal contraceptive.

    FHI 360 has developed a new vaginal insert, made of soft, non-woven textile materials that can contain different types of vaginal gels. What makes this insert innovative is that it virtually eliminates leakage of the vaginal gel, a critical issue for both effectiveness and acceptability. The insert is packaged as a single-use, ready-to-use product, pre-moistened with medicated gel. Depending upon the type of gel, the device could be used to prevent pregnancy or HIV or to treat vaginal infections.

    Currently, the only over-the-counter vaginal contraceptives that are available are detergent-based spermicides containing nonoxynol-9 or similar agents. Detergent-based spermicides are irritating to vaginal tissues and with frequent use can cause ulcerations that could increase the risk of HIV infection.

    The insert could be used with new non-irritating spermicides such as BufferGel® (developed by researchers at Johns Hopkins University) or with a ferrous gluconate formulation (developed by researchers at Cornell University). So far, the Hopkins and Cornell researchers have used other delivery methods, including diaphragms and vaginal rings, for their formulations. The FHI 360 insert could also be used to deliver microbicide gels, considered to be one of the most promising interventions to emerge over the past decade to prevent HIV infection in women.

    Results of a pivotal study, presented on September 17 at the Reproductive Health 2011 conference, showed that the combination of BufferGel and the new SILCS® diaphragm—a one-size-fits-all device—was as effective as a diaphragm with nonoxynol-9 gel. This is a double dose of innovation—a new, non-irritating spermicidal gel and a new one-size-fits-all diaphragm—and it’s great news for women.

    In 2009, we conducted a Phase I study to assess the acceptability of the FHI 360 insert among women and their male partners in Durban, South Africa, using the device saturated with 10 mL of an FDA-approved vaginal lubricant. We recruited 40 women, who first inserted and removed the device at the clinic and then at home. For home use, we asked women to discuss the product with their male partner and—if their partner agreed—to wear it during intercourse.

    Participants found the insert easy to place in the vagina and easy to remove with minimal to non-existent leakage. Most men (34) agreed to have intercourse with the device in place. Participants reported that the insert was comfortable during intercourse. Most women said they would be willing to use the insert for contraception or preventing sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and most men said they would approve of their female partners using it if it became commercially available.

    Once again, we have the potential to advance women’s health in the U.S. and around the world. This is what innovation is all about – improving lives.

  • In Kenya, where more than half of young people are unemployed, 22-year-old Boniface Kirang’a has watched many friends in Flax, his hometown near the Rift Valley town of Eldoret, get involved in petty crime, partying and drinking alcohol.

    But Kirang’a escaped the traps of crime and substance abuse. He went through a two-year automotive mechanic training through APHIAplus (AIDS, Population, and Health Integrated Assistance), a USAID-funded FHI 360 program to improve health in 16 Rift counties. Today, Kirang’a is a self-employed car repairman.

    As part of its comprehensive commitment to health, APHIAplus prevents and treats communicable illnesses such as HIV, AIDS or tuberculosis; assists families affected by HIV; runs programs to reduce hunger; and develops economic opportunities for the region’s residents.

    Like many Kenyan youth, Kirang’a had struggled to stay in school. His father was diagnosed with HIV, and when his condition worsened, the family lost vital income.

    “My father started being sickly in 1999,” when Kirang’a was 10 years old. “He had two butcheries, but he shut them down because of his illness. He died in 2003. After my father died, we returned to our original home in Nyahururu [in central Kenya]. We lived in my grandmother’s home. Life was hard because we were many in the family,” he said in Kiswahili.

    When the family returned to Eldoret, Kirang’a stayed with a relative until he finished primary school in 2004. The uncle “could not educate me after that. He had seven children of his own. I started keeping chickens, which I sold to buy food and clothes. I also worked as shamba boy,” tending crops in cleared forestland.

    But Kirang’a’s uncle got him a scholarship from the Mission Sisters of Mary Immaculate, a community-based organization that partners with APHIAplus. With the bursary, he was able to go to the polytechnical institute, said Kirang’a.

    Since graduating from the institute, Kirang’a joined a group of mechanics in the fast-growing town of Eldoret. He’s doing his share to make sure that young people have chances to learn and develop skills. With his knowhow and earnings, he is saving to build his mother a house and pay for his younger brother’s school fees. In the future, he plans to hire three apprentices from the mechanics institute.

  • Small beginnings, big impact

    I have always believed in the power of microcredit to change lives. A visit to rabbit farmer George Kihanya’s home in the Kenya Rift Valley District convinced me beyond all doubt. Kihanya’s success shows that if well implemented, community-based credit and savings schemes can turn around the lives of many rural families.

    In 2002, Kihanya was caring for his ailing mother. Newly married, he eked out a living growing maize, beans and potatoes.

    Kihanya’s fortunes changed after he started keeping rabbits. Now, he earns on average Sh60,000 (US$650) a month.

    Kihanya was introduced to rabbit farming during a course organized by the Catholic Relief Services, one of the partners in the APHIAPlus program led by FHI.
    Kihanya was chosen by his local church to be trained as a community health worker. He, along with other volunteers, was trained on how to prevent diseases, including HIV, and to link vulnerable children and families to HIV treatment, care and support. Volunteers also learned about farming and other activities, including rabbit farming, to improve food security for their families and communities.

    Inspired by Kihanya’s success, scores of families in the community are now earning money by raising rabbits.

  • Fatuma: A beacon of hope for families affected by HIV

    I first met Fatuma Juma about a year ago in her home town of Nakuru, Kenya, a two-hour drive northwest of Nairobi. A 42-year-old single mother of three, Fatuma is naturally talkative and laughs a lot. Within minutes of meeting, we were chatting like old friends reunited. Fatuma told me how she overcame the shock of finding out she was HIV-positive to become a pillar of hope for many in her community.

    Six years ago, Fatuma had a persistent cough. She visited the local public hospital where doctors discovered she had tuberculosis. Health workers advised her to take a test for HIV. She was HIV-positive.

    She lived in denial until she met social workers in APHIAPlus, a USAID-funded program implemented by FHI in collaboration with the Kenya Council of Imams and Ulamas.

    The social workers counseled and helped her to join a support group. Fatuma was trained as a peer educator and community health worker.
    Due to her positive attitude and willingness to help others, Fatuma has established a reputation as a good counselor. Working with others in the program, she helps families, especially the children, get health care and other services such as education and business skills. Her inspiring story is one of triumph and resilience against major odds.

  • Early symptoms of lung cancer

    Lung cancer is increasingly becoming one of the leading killers of not only smokers but, a symptoms of lung cancer large segment of the population in many countries around the world, with alarming incidences in China and India.

    Malignant lung tumors have been on the rise 10-15% since the 1900’s. In the 1950’s a British Doctors Study was published that provided strong evidence that there was a link between lung cancer and smoking. Studies that documented the early symptoms of lung cancer in 1964, prompted the U.S. Surgeon General to recommend that people actually stop smoking.

    While it is true that other causes have been linked to lung cancer, such as exposure to radon gas, first acknowledged in miners in the 1870’s, asbestos and certain viruses, cigarette smoking has been determined to be the leading cause. There are some 60 known carcinogens in cigarette smoke. Over 91% of lung cancer deaths around the world have been attributed to smoking. The lifetime risk of cancer developing in male smokers is 17%. Women that engage in hormone therapy and that smoke are at even higher risk of developing early symptoms of lung cancer.

    When a person stops smoking their chances of lung cancer drastically symptoms of lung cancer in women begin to lower, the body is able to repair some of the lung damage and repair itself. One of the problems for non-smokers is that of passive smoking, which is described as inhalation of smoke from someone who is smoking. Studies conducted in the U.K, Europe and the United States consistently show that there is a relative risk to those exposed., with rates as high as 10-15% being reported in patients that have never smoked. Some research suggests that indirect smoke inhaled is often more dangerous then the smoke inhaled through the cigarette itself.

    Some of the early symptoms of lung cancer may include bone pain, fever, and weight loss; more common symptoms are wheezing, hoarse voice, coughing up blood, shortness of breath and chronic coughing. Tumors are common as well, often malignant and can easily lead to metastasis to include cancer of the brain, bone, liver, kidneys, and nearly all areas of the body. There are a small percentage of people who do not suffer any noticeable early symptoms of lung cancer; approximately 10% diagnosed have their cancer detected coincidently through a routine chest x-ray.

    The use of CT imaging provides the most through examination and extent of the disease,

    Abnormal findings warrant biopsy or bronchoscopy symptoms of lung cancer in men to determine the stage of the lung cancer. The histological type determines the stage of the cancer itself and any treatment alternatives. It is recommended that periodic checkups with your physician or physician’s assistant be mandated to minimize and treat early symptoms of lung cancer before it can spread or become fatal.