An early response to the Gates Foundation’s call for a “next-generation condom.” Sometimes a bit of cheekiness helps when you’re out to change sexual behavior and prevent new HIV infections.
UNITE FOR CHILDREN - UNITE AGAINST AIDS
In Swaziland, a national push for an HIV-free generation
On March 22, the Government of Swaziland launched a framework to mount the final push toward achieving the goal of eliminating new HIV infections among children and improving the health of women within the next two years.
Swaziland has the highest HIV prevalence in the world. In 2010, an estimated 41 per cent of pregnant women in the country were infected with HIV.
Watch as we report on programmes in Swaziland that are helping HIV-positive parents lead healthy lives and have HIV-free children.
You can read more here
The UN’s Interagency Task Team (IATT) on the Prevention and Treatment of HIV Infection in Pregnant Women, Mothers and Children this week released its toolkit for countries shifting to Option B+ for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT).
Option B+ calls for offering preganant women living with HIV antiretroviral medicines for life as soon as they’re diagnosed with the virus. The antiretrovirals protect not just their health, but that of their babies and their sexual partners.
The IATT describes the toolkit as:
“a collection of assessment tools and checklists that describe the key considerations to be taken into account when transitioning to Option B/B+.
The toolkit provides a roadmap to support the planning and implementation of Option B/B+, and to help countries scale up more effective interventions and programs to achieve the goals of the Global Plan Towards the Elimination of New HIV Infections among Children by 2015 and Keeping their Mothers Alive.
For more about Option B+, click on the picture above and explore the toolkit on the IATT website.
How do you bring about the end of AIDS? We wish it could happen overnight. But there’s really only one way: step by step, year by year, country by country.
A new digital dashboard helps us measure progress among three critical groups in the UN’s priority countries for reversing the epidemic. It comes from the Interagency Task Team on the Prevention and Treatment of HIV in Pregnant Women, Mothers and Children — also known in our section as the IATT.
The dashboard tracks the journey toward a set of goals agreed by the global community with a 2015 deadline. Here’s how the IATT explains it:
The purpose of The Dashboard is to provide a simple snapshot of progress towards the 2015 targets outlined in the Global Plan Towards the Elimination of New HIV Infections Among Children by 2015 and Keeping their Mothers Alive, adopted in 2011. The Dashboard brings together key pieces of global and priority country-specific data compiled and reported by UN agencies into a single place, highlighting achievements and gaps in access to PMTCT services, utilization, ARV coverage and paediatric outcomes. Color coding is used to highlight areas where specific countries are doing well or making slow progress and may require additional resources, to achieve Global Plan targets.
You can get more information on the dashboard - including some impressive tables and illustrations - on this page of the IATT website.
Our take-home message for 2012? “A new generation free of HIV, free of AIDS, must begin with children,” emphasizes UNICEF HIV/AIDS Section Chief Craig McClure. Check it out in the UNICEF 2012: Year in Review video.
One large study showed 3 to 5 percent of people with HIV were coming in with pre-treatment resistance” to antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV.
- Dr David Grelotti, a researcher at the Harvard University School of Public Health
The US NPR radio network reports that some people found to be living with HIV are turning out to be resistant to antiretroviral medicines commonly used to treat the virus — even if they’ve never been treated themselves.
The solution to the mystery may lie in recreational use of the medicines, sometimes in combination with street drugs.
In a commentary in The Lancet, Dr Grelotti says that illicit use of antiretrovirals appears to be creating immune HIV strains by the users, who can then transmit those strains to others.
One example is “Whoonga,” a South African combination of HIV medicines and street drugs.
UNICEF’s U-report application, recently launched in Zambia, has been operating in Uganda since May, 2011. A new video from the Ugandan rap group One Heart Family encourages young people to use the service. As a UNICEF story puts it:
The initiative equips mobile phone users with the tools to establish and enforce new standards of transparency and accountability in development programming and services.
By sending the text message, ‘join,’ to a toll-free number and submitting a few personal details, anyone with a mobile phone can become a volunteer ‘U-reporter’, sharing their observations and ideas on a wide range of development issues.
In less than a year, the population of U-reporters has grown to over 89,000, with 400 to 500 joining the network daily.
U-report already has a strong following among adolescents and young people, who are especially comfortable with the platform’s reliance on mobile phone technology.
We want to see zero new HIV infections, particularly among Namibia’s youth
Petrina Hangura, Namibia’s Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, praises her country’s young people for embracing HIV prevention methods and changing their behaviour to reduce their risk of contracting the virus. More in this article from Windhoek’s New Era newspaper.
Namibia has joined countries around the world in committing to eliminate new HIV infections among infants by 2015.
Photo: A sign calling for the end of AIDS supports young people on Madagascar’s Makalomba Beach
After Cyclone Ivan in 2008, UNICEF was in Madagascar doing relief work. Youth Development Officer Mariam Toure was taking part in that effort. She wanted to find out what life was like for young people there following the storm.
Mariam found some of them hanging out by a grassy area beside the highway in the town of Soanierana Ivongo. They described the situation in their community. Some young people were engaging in underaged sex, delinquency and petty theft, with domestic and international tourism in the area making matters worse. Young men who worked as porters at the town’s boat marina spent their earnings on alcohol and drugs. Many girls and young women were engaged in prostitution, which put them at increased risk of acquiring HIV.
“The real problem,” they told Mariam, “is that we have nowhere to go and nothing to do.”
One thing UNICEF can do for young people like these is offer training in “life skills” - knowledge that improves self-awareness and fosters ability in areas such as communication, critical thinking and conflict resolution. This training can also include instruction in sexual and reproductive health, including HIV and AIDS prevention.
Mariam ensured that the young people she’d met and others like them received life skills training, with lessons in protecting themselves against the HIV and AIDS epidemic as part of the curriculum. But she also gave them something to do, presenting a gift from UNICEF of sporting goods, including a volleyball and net. That brought a cheer from the group — and triggered a rush to the beach to play.