Apr 17th, 2013 1:53 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Jamie Gentille, an HIV/AIDS advocate who works with organizations like ONE and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, shares her experience growing up HIV-positive in the US.
When I was a kid, my life was a secret. I couldn’t tell my friends that I contracted HIV from a blood transfusion during open-heart surgery when I was three. I couldn’t tell my teachers why I missed so much school for medical appointments. That information stayed within the four walls of my house, because we were afraid of what would happen if people knew. Would I get kicked out of school? Would my friends not want to hang out with me? Would our community ostracise us? I didn’t want to find out, so I kept my secret to myself.
As a child, I didn’t know if I would even live to see my thirties, much less thrive and be completely open about my status. But now I’m happy and healthy. This didn’t just happen by chance. This happened because thousands of people advocated for HIV research and education.
Organisations like Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) and ONE have shed light on the issue and worked tirelessly to destigmatise AIDS and eliminate the disease worldwide. I am proud to be an EGPAF Ambassador and a partner with ONE. I’m proud to celebrate groundbreaking news of patients being functionally cured of HIV. And I’m proud to share my story with the world.
It was a leap of faith for me to tell the world that I am HIV-positive. Once it was out, I knew I couldn’t “un-tell” people. No amount of “just kidding!” would put the news back in the box. But I realised that I wasn’t doing myself or the HIV community any favours by keeping it a secret.
So let’s keep talking. Let’s figure out how we can reach those in need of life-saving services. Let’s support the research we need to make the next medical milestone a reality. Let’s demystify HIV/AIDS so that people feel comfortable talking about how to protect themselves. Let’s share stories.
I have published a memoir on living with HIV called Surviving HIV: Growing Up a Secret and Being Positive. The book describes growing up in a world of hospitals, tests and doctors; and coming to terms with my own mortality at age 10, when I learned that I was HIV positive. It follows me through adolescence and young adulthood, as I navigated the wonderful world of dating, and attempted to find a balance between being HIV positive and trying to live a “normal life”. Finally, the book describes entering the working world as a healthy adult, and falling in love with my husband, my greatest supporter.
The past couple of weeks have been exhilarating for me—publishing my book and hearing the amazing news of functional cures are causes for applause. I see a bright future ahead of us, and I can’t wait to see what we will be celebrating next.
ONE is campaigning to make the beginning of the end of AIDS a reality by 2015, by putting pressure on world leaders to invest in the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. Join us and take our one minute action now.
Apr 10th, 2013 6:30 PM UTC
By Erin Hohlfelder
15 Instagram buy-outs; 384 Lionel Messis; 1 London Olympics; or 30 million iPads. These are just a few of the things you could have purchased if you had a spare $15 billion burning a hole in your pocket recently (and really, don’t we all?). But yesterday, the Global Fund added a big item to that list that’s much more compelling: the chance to help save lives and control AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in hundreds of countries around the world.
As donors meet today and tomorrow in Brussels, the Global Fund unveiled $15 billion as its “replenishment ask”—the amount it hopes to raise from interested stakeholders over the next three years to support its work. If you have followed this issue with us for a while, you will know that this is a process the Global Fund goes through every three years. In the last replenishment for 2011-2013, they succeeded in getting commitments totaling just under $12 billion, so this year’s replenishment will represent a big step up.
In a time of economic restraint in most donor countries around the world, coming up with $15 billion will require more than just digging under the couch cushions. It will require donors like the US to fight back against potential budget cuts, and maintain a leadership role in funding; President Obama’s 2014 budget out today, which includes a $1.65 billion request for the Global Fund, is a first key step.
It will require Europeans to step up their commitments, just as we asked of them in our World AIDS Day 2012 report. It will require new donors, both from Europe and from emerging economies, to invest for the first time. It will require African nations, whose citizens are some of the most heavily impacted by these diseases and whose economies are in some cases growing the fastest, to recommit to spending 15% of their national budgets on health.
It will require new partnerships with the private, faith, and NGO sectors. And it will absolutely require ONE members from around the world to use their voices, put pressure on each of these groups, and let them know that they will be celebrated and supported for doing the right thing.
The work will be hard. But if we can to find a way to get the Global Fund the $15 billion it needs, and if we can convince other actors to continue scaling up their other health investments, too, we can achieve some pretty historic things. In fact, the Global Fund estimates that if collectively we could help fill the majority of a global $87 million funding gap for the three diseases, the world could look quite different by 2016:
That’s a world so beautiful it would be worth Instagramming 15 times over.
Apr 7th, 2013 8:00 AM UTC
By Guest Blogger
This post is by Katri Kemppainen-Bertram, ONE’s Policy Associate on Global Health.
Today is World Health Day and this year’s theme is high blood pressure – not something you often hear about at ONE.
It’s an issue that is mostly seen as a rich world disease, whereas infectious diseases (such as HIV, tuberculosis or malaria) are associated with developing countries. However, health issues like heart disease, cancer, asthma or diabetes (so-called non-communicable diseases, or NCDs) are also on the rise in Africa.
By 2030, NCDs are projected to be the main cause of death in Africa. So inevitably, they will represent a growing set of challenges for the global health community and the world’s poorest countries.
Today is also a time to for us to reflect on some immense achievements that have been accomplished in global health in the past years. Coinciding with the last 1,000 days before the 2015 expiration date of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), we should think about we’re heading in the years – and decades – to come.
Many of the current MDGs focus on the most pressing health challenges in the developing world such as AIDS, TB, malaria, and maternal and child deaths. ONE has just published a report on how far we have come on those goals– and how we can sprint to the finish line in 2015.
Sprinting to 2015 is vital, but people working on development – and people living in developing countries, will not stop then. A second date looms in the future: 2030, the target date for the next MDGs. A change in disease burden around the world – and how we are able to combat these health problems – is part of what is currently being discussed. What is realistically achievable – in a cost-effective way that targets those most in need – poses another set of questions.
Each sprint, and every long race, consists of many, many single steps. Our health challenges and the work we do to combat them may look different in two years or two decades, but fighting to significantly reduce or even eradicate deaths from both infectious and non-communicable diseases will inevitably be an important global effort for years to come.
Mar 24th, 2013 8:00 AM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Sunday 24 March is World TB Day. Katri Kemppainen-Bertram discusses the co-epidemic of TB and HIV and how combatting them together could be the solution.
What do you see when you visualise an organization called The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria? Possibly sex (as HIV can be transmitted through unprotected sex), possibly drugs (anti-malaria pills during travels where there are malaria mosquitos), but I would guess no rock ‘n’ roll.
Tuberculosis (TB) kills 3 people every minute – 1.4 million people each year. It is an infectious, airborne disease that infects the throat and lungs.Without the correct medicines, it is fatal. TB strikes those who are most vulnerable: the poorest. It also strikes those who are already weak: in particular, people who are HIV-positive.
The World Health Organization (WHO) publishes a World TB Report each year. The latest report shows that there were 1.1 million HIV-positive new TB cases in 2011 (and 8.7 million TB cases overall). Nearly 80 percent of these are in sub-Saharan Africa. The report warns that Africa is facing a TB, HIV, and TB/HIV co-epidemic emergency that is affecting its fight against poverty and impeding the continent’s economic development.
Women waiting for their children’s TB immunisations. Photo credit: one.org
There are fortunately many dedicated organisations and very passionate people working towards eradicating TB. As with HIV/AIDS and malaria, recent scientific developments make the eradication of tuberculosis appear closer than ever before. Combined treatment of TB and AIDS is possible. Globally, new cases of TB fell at a rate of 2.2 percent between 2010 and 2011. The world is on track to achieve the global Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of achieving a 50 percent reduction by 2015. Since 2002, the Global Fund, which channels more than 80 percent of international financing for TB, has enabled the treatment of 9.7 million people for TB.
The problem is that global successes hide regional discrepancies. Africa is far off track with the MDG targets, and multi-drug-resistant strands (MDR-TB) are on the rise. There is a $3 billion funding gap per year for TB, which hits the poorest 35 countries (25 of which are in Africa) hardest.
Whereas HIV/AIDS and malaria can be deadly also to those of us who live in developed countries, TB most often isn’t if it is discovered in time. TB does not have to kill, and with organizations such as the Global Fund, millions of lives can be saved.
The Global Fund depends on donor financing, and needs to be stocked up every few years. The next replenishment round will be at the end of 2013, and with the financial crisis, many governments are considering cuts. Cuts to the Global Fund mean cuts to programs and medicines for the poorest of the poor. Rock ‘n’ roll or not, it’s time to make your voice heard.
Mar 23rd, 2013 8:00 AM UTC
By Helen Hector
Sunday 24 March is World TB Day. Historically, TB has killed more people than any other disease. Surprised? I was too.
ONE has been campaigning to make sure world leaders keep money coming into the Global Fund, our most effective weapon in the fight against HIV AIDS, TB and Malaria.
Get yourself educated about threat that TB still has for millions of people around the world with this great infographic, then sign our petition to tell world leaders to step up their support for the Global Fund.
Mar 5th, 2013 3:37 PM UTC
By Erin Hohlfelder
With the exception of World AIDS Day, it’s rare to see anything related to HIV/AIDS trending on Twitter, and even rarer still for the trending to happen because of good news. But the world—online and offline—was buzzing on Monday with exciting news: a young girl in Mississippi had been “functionally cured” of her HIV infection.
Her cure came not through something outrageously expensive or experimental, but through a treatment regimen of triple-drug antiretroviral therapy given to her within 30 hours of birth, even before doctors had confirmed her HIV status—a proactively aggressive treatment strategy that appears to have paid unprecedented dividends.
The mother and her daughter soon dropped out of the medical system, and the mother stopped giving her daughter antiretroviral drugs. When they eventually returned to the medical center, however, doctors found only scant traces of HIV in her daughter’s system, and the virus had not able to replicate itself and spread, even without sustained treatment.
There are still many things we don’t know about this study—whether this functional cure will be lifelong, whether it applies only to pediatric cases or could also work for very newly-infected adolescents and adults, exactly how the drugs defeated the virus, and so on. And replicating this case, particularly in resource-limited settings across the developing world might be quite challenging.
In most sub-Saharan African countries, infant HIV testing is done within weeks, not hours, of birth—a time delay which might mitigate the impacts of treatment — and triple-drug treatment regimens are often not prescribed in favor of simpler, less expensive formulations. The anecdote also highlights many health systems challenges, including a clear reminder via the mother of how often people drop in and out of the HIV continuum of care, making patient monitoring and treatment more challenging.
But this study should offer momentum for the global AIDS community because it provides one more finding on how our existing tools can have a new and even groundbreaking impact in the fight against HIV, just as we have learned over the last two years that antiretroviral treatment effectively serves as prevention and that medical circumcision has significant prevention benefits for men.
It should also give advocates a good excuse to remind those who are just tuning in to this story for the first time that, aside from curing pediatric AIDS, we already have simple treatments available to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother-to-child in 95 percent or more of cases.
The road toward achieving the beginning of the end of AIDS will inevitably be a long one, but the news from Mississippi should propel us onward with a bit of extra hope this week.
You can help us keep putting pressure on world leaders to keep up the fight against HIV AIDS. Take our 30 second action.
Feb 25th, 2013 2:19 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Janet Fleischman and Julia Nagel from the Center for Strategic and International Studies in America are our guest bloggers today.
Cervical cancer kills an estimated 275,000 women every year, 85% of whom are in developing countries.
The link between HIV and cervical cancer is direct and deadly: HIV-infected women who are also infected with specific types of human papilloma virus (HPV) are 4 to 5 times more susceptible to cervical cancer than HIV-negative women. This has important implications for HIV programs, especially in countries with significant HIV epidemics.
To understand the opportunities and challenges of integrating cervical cancer screening and treatment into HIV services for women, we travelled to Zambia, which has been at the forefront of integrating these services.
This video features stories of women in Zambia whose lives have been changed by screening programmes.
Video by Julia Nagel, Janet Fleischman, and Christopher Letendre
Attention to cervical cancer in Zambia has been heightened with the 2011 launch of the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon initiative, which builds on HIV services to include cervical and breast cancer prevention, screening and treatment. The demand for screening has been growing, sometimes overwhelming the roughly 50 health care workers who have been trained.
Since September 2011, 22,000 women have been screened, about a third of whom are HIV-positive. The screening itself is simple and cost-effective, involving soaking the cervix in acetic acid, such as that found in common vinegar, to check for abnormal lesions. If small lesions are found, they are removed at the clinic using cryotherapy, which is nitrous oxide. More advanced cases are referred to either Kabwe District Hospital or the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, but those sites are still unreachable for most women across the country.
This is only the beginning; much more needs to be done to effectively integrate cervical cancer screening into HIV services throughout Zambia and to build the capacity to screen, refer and treat. Yet HIV-positive women in Zambia are now learning that screening and treatment for cervical cancer can save their lives.
In the words of Paxina, an HIV-positive women who had been successfully treated: “Cervical cancer screening can help women living with HIV and AIDS. They will stay healthier and they will stay for a long time. Like I am. I am HIV positive. I went for cervical cancer screening and here I am today.”
Dec 13th, 2012 3:40 PM UTC
By ONE Partners
Positive-Generation Executive Director Fogue Foguito shares his powerful remarks to ONE after receiving the 2012 Africa Award on behalf of his organization. His message, which reflects on advocacy’s true role in development, is Positive-Generation’s promise to ONE and the NGO community to fight HIV/AIDS through justice and human rights.
We do not know how to express our profound gratitude at receiving this distinguished award, which is beyond our individual merits. Every man, every organization or artist, seeks recognition. We are no different.
But it was hard to believe ONE’s decision. When the news came, we started panicking, wondering how such a young organization, rich in ideas but whose work is still in progress, could have been selected. Furthermore, how could we accept such an honor when in Africa, other organizations have been silenced? How could we accept it at a time when the problems being decried by such organizations are being written off as myths? Where every victory is challenged by a new setback?
We gathered our thoughts. Since we can not only attribute this distinction only to our own merits, we thought it very appropriate to turn to those organizations that have stood by us during difficult times, throughout our short existence, and who have promoted our role as advocates and as a community-based organization. Let me, with respect assure you that we are up to the task.
Personally, the challenges we face in the field tell us how important advocacy is. But we have never placed this role above everything. On the contrary, the field challenges enable frequent meetings between men and women, between communities, and these allow us to move at the level of all, with all and for all.
In our view, advocacy is not an isolated exercise. It is a means of reaching out and mobilizing the largest number of people and sharing a common image of sufferings and joys. Advocacy enables people to participate in decision-making processes that affect their lives. It is therefore an obligation to the advocate not to function in isolation. In this context he/she is permanently in contact with people. And whoever chooses his/her destiny as an advocate or an actor of development needs to learn as fast as possible to bring together forces that share a similar vision to his/hers.
A community-based organization like ours is in permanent contact with others, and our dream is that the realities of the communities with which we work, will one day be felt by all. That is why true advocacy organisations do not take anything lightly; they are obliged to understand rather than to judge. And if they have to take sides, they take the side of a vision of society that devoid of injustice, where underdevelopment and dehumanizing actions are a thing of the past.
At the same time, an organization like ours cannot shy away from difficult tasks. Positive-Generation is at the service of those who suffer and we must not shy away from such a vocation. Throughout our existence we have received our fair share of difficulties, in serving two basic principles: truth and freedom.
Since we aim to improve the living conditions of the communities we serve, we stand against lies and any other actions that promote injustice. Not withstanding our individual weaknesses, we strive to route our actions in two difficult but crucial commitments: taking a stand against lies and half-truths; and resisting oppression.
Given our role as advocates, it would be remiss of us not to take this opportunity to launch a strong appeal to our decision makers for more investment, and more political and financial commitment to people’s health, especially in the context of HIV/AIDS. Tremendous efforts have been made in recent years, but much still remains to be done, and this is the time to multiply our efforts.
Let me not divert attention from the major challenge; the issue of permanent access to treatment remains a dream to our people in Africa. If we consider just the issue of antiretroviral therapy, it is a question of fundamental human rights.
It is an issue of social justice, civility and especially democracy. Looked at in this way, it is difficult for a State to distance itself from its obligation to protect its populations. In a nutshell, the degree of the respect of the rights of affected people is a barometer of development, and importantly, is a true indicator of the degree of humanity, solidarity, civility and democracy of a nation.
Each new generation believes they can rebuild the world. Mine knows that this is not possible. But we do believe we can protect the world from further destruction. We are in a critical moment in the global effort to fight AIDS; in a context marked by decreasing financial resources; where financial crises are used as a pretext today to justify the threat on the lives of millions of people in the world and in Africa in particular.
Faced with this situation, today, we call on African leaders to muster enough courage and the political will of the fathers of African independence, to say no to this entire dependence tendency, and to take seriously their own responsibilities.
Let us reflect a little on who we really are, our limitations, our doubts, our sorrows. We feel easier, in accepting this award, to do so as a tribute to all those who share in the same struggle, but who, rather than receiving prizes, have instead experienced misfortune and persecution.
Here, my regards go to those ordinary – in fact extraordinary – men and women, who have inspired us. I think of Joseph Pouagam, Daniel Nonze, Dr. Charles Kouanfack, Flavien Ndonko, the late Gisèle Kengne and many others. We equally think of partner organizations such as ACMS (Cameroon Social Marketing Association), RAME, Act Up Paris, AIDES, Solidarité Sida, Coalition 15%, MOCPAT, GTIA and all community base organisation in Cameroon, who have spared no effort in supporting us in this journey.
We express our sincere thanks from the bottom of our hearts, and publicly declare our gratitude and appreciation for this award.
Long live the struggle for development and human right.s Long live the promotion of health. Long live Cameroon. God Bless Africa.
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Dec 11th, 2012 2:00 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Guest blog post from University of Calgary campus leader Ryan Lukic:
University of Calgary ONE members came out and showed their support for the Beginning of the End of AIDS on Friday, November 30th.
More than 100 plus took a stand and joined ONE as they signed to push world leaders to keep up the fight on HIV/AIDS.
ONE members From left to right: Ryan Lukic, Ariel Pevzner, Guido Van Marle, Rob Poole, Emanuel Mostofi, Morgan Braun
At our World AIDS Day event, we had the pleasure to hear from Rob Poole from AIDS Calgary and Dr. Guido Van Marle of the University of Calgary. Rob has over 18 years of experience working across Canada with the HIV/AIDS community and was able to talk about AIDS as both an international and local issue that affects different people, and to different degrees, based on where they live. Meanwhile, Dr. Van Marle, who is the Director of the Biomedical Sciences program on campus and a researcher in HIV resistance, commented on the difficulties in Africa with testing and treatment. He illuminated the issue of simply throwing money at a problem but not addressing the surrounding concerns of infrastructure and political follow through on these improvements.
Both speakers encouraged a lively and important discussion on how we continue to move toward an AIDS free generation. The message was clear: the science of HIV/AIDS can only take us so far. We need to continue to focus on how we can prevent new cases, continue to develop community based action plans both abroad and right here at home to remove the stigma surrounding the disease and ensure that governments stay committed and don’t just provide lip-service on the issue.
We also talked about how important programs like PEPFAR and the efforts of (RED) and the Global Fund have been to reducing the number of new HIV cases and increasing the number of those on treatment. More importantly, we all agreed that programs that save lives and treat HIV/AIDS patients, work on prevention and community involvement are ones we do not want to see cut from budgets in the upcoming year. We all agreed that this is our time to stand up for these programs and ensure that our leaders know we are in this to end it!
Dec 6th, 2012 3:16 PM UTC
By Isabelle De Lichtervelde
With just over 5000 cases of HIV in 2011, Mauritius is not an obvious priority for most AIDS donors and mechanisms. But HIV/AIDS is on the rise on the island and affects the most vulnerable parts of the population.
Thanks to EU funding, a local organisation called Prévention Information Lutte contre le Sida (PILS) has brought the fight against HIV/AIDS in Mauritius to the forefront.
PILS was started by Nicolas Ritter in 1996 two years after he found out he was HIV positive. At the time there was no services in Mauritius for individuals with HIV/AIDS and he had to fly to neighbouring Reunion Island to get treatment. Inspired by what was happening in this neighbouring country, he decided to start PILS at the age of 25. Since then PILS’s work has saved lives and that’s what keeps Nicolas and his team dedicated to their work. They know that HIV/AIDS doesn’t have to be a death sentence and more and more, the people of Mauritius know this too.
Despite this success, Nadia Peerun, Fundraiser for PILS, explains that Mauritius is competing with other countries in the region. “It’s very difficult for us to get funding at those levels because the situation is much worse on the African continent.” Luckily the EU’s “Decentralised Cooperation Programme” in Mauritius makes it easier for PILS to get funding. Nadia explains “[this] system of funds being available at local level in Mauritius increases our chances of getting them in the health sector.” She adds, “Other donors don’t necessarily have this kind mechanism so it is much harder for us to get funding.”
In 2009, the EU funded an outreach project implemented by PILS to bring information, prevention, health and testing services to these excluded populations, such as drug users and sex workers, who are the most at risk. “It is really with EU funding that we got this project going.” Nadia adds, “This is very important for these populations. Because of the high level of stigma related to them, they don’t actually go to the public health centre.” Between 2009 and 2011, thanks to EU funding, 1103 HIV tests were carried out, 302 commercial sex workers and 753 people who inject drugs have been reached.
Thanks to EU funding, with one of the rare local funders, Rogers & Co. Ltd. that supports PILS’ advocacy project, PILS has been able to train other local organisations in advocacy. Nadia explains, “This is really important because there are many NGOs in Mauritius but there isn’t a common strategy with regard to advocacy activities.”
In 2009 and 2010, the EU also funded PILS’ own capacity building. Nadia explains, “This has helped us significantly in terms of being more efficient, more coordinated, a more solid NGO. EU’s financial management and programmatic management requirement is something that enabled us to grow and improve our management considerably.”
Besides its outreach and advocacy work, PILS has an empowerment programme targeting vulnerable groups who are living with HIV. These groups are marginalised in Mauritius and receive very little information about health, social guidance on rehabilitation or integration and how to reduce health risks. PILS offers workshops where artisanal skills are taught so that unemployed beneficiaries can stabilize their income. Nadia explains, “We are getting them to learn these new artisanal skills and register as entrepreneur. So they can sell their stuff on the market. It helps stabilize their income.” These workshops are also a good occasion to inform them on HIV and related issues.
People can also follow the more advanced training of PILS’ ‘Positive Ambassadors’ phase, whereby they are trained to be active in the national response to the crisis, by participating in PILS’ activities, in advocacy and policy-decisions. One of the participants, Den Ramsamy, decided to publicly disclose his HIV-positive status.
Nadia explains, “He got the tools he needed to advocate for his rights, to get his voice heard and participate in national meetings and eventually publicly disclose in front of the TV his status. It is a good example of how an EU-funded project contributed to having a big impact on the community.” Around 35 people are currently being trained to become positive ambassadors.
Asked if she’d prefer European countries to give more aid through the EU institutions or more national bilateral aid, Nadia replies without hesitations, “I’d be much more for receiving aid through the EU. From past experiences directly with European countries, we noticed the EU has more of a global picture. The EU is able to target funds and have pertinent calls for projects which I find much more difficult on a country basis because there is much less of this global picture. As the EU has this global picture it is much more coordinated. Funds are much better allocated.”
The mission of PILS is to minimise the impact of HIV in Mauritius through promoting prevention, improving the lives of HIV+ persons, and mobilising political and public support for HIV+ persons and issues. Visit : http://www.pils.mu/
The International ONE Blog is a daily log of the anti-poverty movement. The site is operated by ONE staff, with guest contributions from ONE volunteers, members and allies.
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