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33 million people live with HIV/AIDS worldwide – 2.1 million die each year and 2.7 million more are infected.

What will you do this World AIDS Day?

World AIDS Day began on December 1, 1988 and has since been recognized around the world each year. It has become a key opportunity to increase awareness, fight against prejudice, commemorate the lives lost to the disease, and celebrate the victories in increased access to services and treatment.

This year’s World AIDS Day theme is ‘Universal Access and Human Rights,’ which offers the opportunity to recognize that despite the strides, the most marginalized and vulnerable populations still do not have access to the care and services they need – that access is their human right. The review of the Millennium Development Goals this past September reminded us of the goal to achieve universal access and World AIDS Day is another moment to remind policymakers, parents, teachers, and friends alike that we have lots to do to achieve universal access and protect human rights.


Do something this World AIDS Day. Whether you have a lot or a little time, we have just the way for you to get involved:

I care about the issue but don’t think I have time to plan an event.

I can whip up something quick, send me a free kit!

Bring it on! I’ll organize a film screening for World AIDS Day, send me a free kit!

I care about the issue but don’t think I have time to plan an event.

1 ) Read the rest of this entry »

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By Binta Diallo, Global Health Issue Analyst

Recently, the Obama Administration announced that they were going to be allocating $4 billion to the Global Fund.  For those of you unfamiliar with the Global Fund, it is an international “bank” that distributes funds and appropriate resources to the fight against AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis.  The Global Fund is currently contributing to about 144 countries around the world.  During a recent meeting with the donors in New York, it was announced that countries will be contributing a total of $11.7 billion USD for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria over the next three years. Note that this is less than what they previously said would be the worst case scenario of $13 billion. $4 billion of the total amount comes from the U.S, which the biggest contribution from any country, and would be a 38 percent increase of US contributions from the last three years. Although the pledge of $4 billion from the US increased from previous years, it is still not enough. Since the Global Fund works to fight against the spread of AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis throughout the world, the financial need is extremely high. Based on the projected needs ($13 billion to keep treatment at current levels) and failed commitments by other nations, the US pledge ends up being very small.

Questions about the management and accountability of the Global Fund seem to have affected the magnitude of countries’ monetary commitments. An U.S official said that the US pledge could potentially increase if the Global Fund and participating countries “improve their management of grants, work to avoid duplication of efforts, improve accountability and monitoring.”

This brings up the question: why should the administration pledge more funds if their money is not being used efficiently?  Read the rest of this entry »

The first global health Issue Analyst training occurred exactly a week ago. Yes we did it, we discussed maternal health, reproductive health in crisis situations and HIV/AIDS all in one night! It is possible!

Slide from Maternal Health PresentationJodi Keyserling, a policy analyst with CARE, started off the night with a presentation on maternal health. Not only did Jodi highlight the issues surrounding maternal health and shocking statistics like the difference between a women’s risk of maternal death in Sub-Saharan Africa (1 in 36) versus those living in the U.S. (1 in 2,100), but also shared recent policy news including the Global MOMS Act.  Here is one of my favorite slides from her presentation that illustrates the intersections between other global health problems and maternal health.

Erika Larson with JSI Research and Training Institute’s reproductive health for refugees ASTARTE program, followed with a presentation on Reproductive Health (RH) in Crisis situations. I had no idea that “8 out of 10 countries with the highest maternal mortality are crisis-affected” or that conflict-affected countries receive 53% less official development assistance for RH activities than non-crisis countries. Here are some slides that I found really helpful (click on images for bigger size):

JSI RH-Crisis-Take awayJSI- What are the consequences

We ended the night with a bang as Kaytee Riek, Director of Organizing at Health GAP, gave us a fabulous presentation on the current HIV/AIDS landscape including how the US is contributing to the fight against HIV/AIDS. Prior to the presentation, I was not aware of Read the rest of this entry »

By James Craggs
James is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about James below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

Students and young people have the best grasp on a new weapon for conquering HIV and AIDS: social networking such as Facebook and Twitter.  Young people are able to share content, blog, tweet and post information fast.  But how are students and young people important in international health affairs and do they influence decisions? 

Well, in circumstances which affect either an individual or a group of people, knowledge is power.  Spreading information online allows information to get around, and let’s face it; young people need to know the risks and passing on what they know.  Young people are, usually, the most sexually active in society, so it’s important for them to know how to protect themselves and others.

It’s not just about how it affects people as individuals, but how it affects other people and how young people can help defeat HIV and AIDS, socially and physically.  The influence of networking is so big today, that when young people can get together behind an issue, people listen.  Demonstrations get organised, groups set up and decisions changed from the influence of networking groups.  The role of online tools and communication to object and demonstrations against actions is becoming more important, as people become more complex in their networking connections.  It’s also a way of spreading information to people who don’t (or can’t) get online, through word of mouth and the media.      

So, with young people keeping in touch with each other, the possibilities are endless.  With such a large voice, online and in the real world, it is a duty of everyone to say something, to act or just to listen, but the importance of young people can’t be underestimated.

My name is James Craggs I’m a final year student at The University of Aberdeen in the UK reading for my Masters in Politics and International Relations.  I also work within the National Health Service within the emergency services.  I volunteer in projects for a local and regional public health charity associated with HIV/AIDS and sexual health issues who have a national presence here in the UK.  In my spare time I enjoy mountain climbing, gym, socialising with friends and travelling as much as possible!

By April Stewart

The European Union has included stipulations on intellectual property rights in a free trade and investment agreement (FTA) that is currently being negotiated with India. The Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+), an organization of HIV/AIDS positive people who advocate to improve the quality of life and define proper standards of living for the infected, held a “Die In” in front of the Ministry of Commerce to protest intellectual property regulations within the agreement.

Intellectual property (IP) rights have become problematic with generic drug companies producing antiretroviral medicines for AIDS patients. India, with these IP provisions will be unable to produce affordable medication for the portion of the population infected with HIV or AIDS.  If IP provisions are included within this agreement the patent terms will be extended, the exportation of generic drugs will become difficult, and there will be a “delay [in] the registration of generic medicines.”

Thomas Pogge, a German philosopher, argues that Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for pharmaceutical companies are “morally problematic” in his book World Poverty and Human Rights. I agree with his assessment; while intellectual property rights may suit art forms such as music, IP provisions should not be applicable to what Pogge has termed “essential medicines.” I would argue that with the modern developments of medicine for HIV/AIDS, these should be included in the definition of “essential medicine.” In many countries, funding for the first round of antiretroviral Read the rest of this entry »

About two weeks ago Julia and I attended the US Global Leadership Council’s annual conference. The day was filled with brilliant speakers, but in the end we both agreed that one of our favorites was Gary Knell, President and CEO of Sesame Working shop. He discussed “Muppet Diplomacy”, the idea that through educational television we can develop nations and encourage a more positive relationship between the U.S. and other nations. As Julia mentioned in an earlier post, this was a refreshing viewpoint on a panel that mostly focused on the direct impact of development on business’ pockets (not so surprising since it was a panel on development’s economic impacts).

Sesame Workshop was founded thirty-eight years ago to help low income children in the U.S. prepare for school. The concept was simple: use television to address the developmental needs of children. Since then, the Sesame Street model has gone global. Sesame Workshop works with 18 countries (Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt ,France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kosovo, Mexico, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Palestine, Russia, South Africa ) on locally produced media following the Sesame model. Each production team involves the top educators, researchers, psychologists, child development experts, artists, writers and musicians in their respective countries. Today Sesame Street if the most researched show in history.

What is most interesting about this process is how local productions are using the Sesame model to talk about regionally relevant issues. Rechov Sumsum, the production in Israel features Arab-Israeli and Jewish- Israeli muppets living together in harmony. Alam Simsim, Egypt’s production features a bright young female muppet, Khokha, to promote the empowerment and education of young girls.

South Africa’s Takalani Sesame embodies the spirit of the “rainbow nation” and features muppets that speak with accents that reflect the diversity of the nation. Most notable is Kami, a young female muppet who is HIV positive. As South Africa continues to be devastated by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the show is attempting to dispel the culture of silence and stigma surrounding the issue.

The name “Kami” comes from the Setswana word “Kamodelo” which means “acceptance.” Kami is a Read the rest of this entry »

By Enock Musungwini
Enock is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about Enock below or take a look at the Student Issue Analysts.

BEHAVIORAL CHANGE is the way individuals or people Think, Speak , Act and See with regards to many health problems including HIV/AIDS. Behavior change is a process and is a strategy of moving beyond awareness thus taking programs from information to action. Understanding the behavioral change theory is key to HIV prevention.

As a public health professional, I have learned that behavioral change is influenced by five BIG factors:

1) Current information level of the individual who should change the behavior.

2) Perceived risk of that individual: whether the individual personalizes the risk. For example, a person may think that although the risk is high for general population level that that may not apply to them.

3) Skills and confidence of the individual to take action with regards to the positive behavior to be adopted.

4) Social support for the individual to change and adopt the positive behavior he /she wants to take. This involves the environment and the support systems to reach and get to the desired goal and behavior. This involves creating an enabling environment for behavior change in terms of policies, practices, beliefs and traditions of the particular group or population as well as families and communities.

5) Access to the resources that support and promote behavioral change. This involves HIV prevention services including testing and counseling (T&C), Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), Preventing Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT), Condoms, Anti-retroviral Treatment (ART) and other support services. Barriers that affect access to the services should be removed.

Behavior change is a process with stages and the stages may happen in order or haphazardly. The stages of behavior change are:

1.     Not thinking about change: An individual is unaware of the need to change and don’t perceive themselves at risk.

2.     Thinking about change now may be because there was awareness and weighing the pros and cons of changing behavior. The individual now perceive him/herself at risk and has personalized risk.

3.     Preparing to change the behavior that will put him/her at risk and developing a plan for the change. The individual find ways of going about it and what to do to achieve the change.

4.     Taking action to adopt the new desired behavior and thus now an individual is following his/her plan of reaching that goal (behavior).

5.     Maintaining that behavior which one has adopted so as to avoid relapsing back to the risk behavior. This involves avoiding events and situations that will trigger the re-surfacing of the risk and undesired behavior.

Behavior change is a cross-cutting HIV prevention strategy that zero down to an individual and is the ideal approach in a generalized HIV epidemic where HIV is no longer confined and concentrated in specific populations and groups. Behavior change challenges everyone: HIV positive and negative, married and unmarried, men and women, young and adults to take part and make effort. Behavior change is not about blaming the past and what happened in the past but it is about what do an individual do and what can the community and families do now to prevent HIV transmission.

Behavior change is multifaceted and multidimensional as well as cross-cutting in all sectoral HIV/AIDS services and programs.

Behavior Change starts with me!! Stop AIDS , Keep the Promise! HIV Prevention now.

Enock Musungwini is a holds a Certificate in Public Health and Health Systems management, Diploma in Nursing and BSc (Hons) Degree in Psychology. He holds other  various certificates related to Leadership, Interaction, Facilitation and Management. He is the Director and Founder of Community Organization for Development and AIDS Prevention (CODAP) an NGO that works with youths and young people on HIV/AIDS, Reproductive health, peer education and other development programs. He has presented various Abstracts and papers at many national, regional and International conferences related to HIV/AIDS, Climate change and Leadership. He has worked for the following NGOs that work with youths and communities on HIV/AIDS: Midlands AIDS Service Organization as a Program officer for Behavioral Change Communication programs, Gweru Women AIDS Prevention Association as Project Coordinator, The CENTRE – Project Officer (Capacity Building and Outreach )

By April Stewart
April is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about April below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

Happiness is the name of a young girl I met in Usa River, Tanzania. She is four years old and loves orange Fanta and dancing. She and more than 30 of her friends live in an orphanage run by the Tanzania Millennium Hand Foundation. All of these children have been infected or affected by HIV, including Happiness. Happiness tested positive for HIV more than a year ago, which she contracted from her mother, who passed away from complications associated with AIDS.

Youth around the world are disproportionately infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. The growing number of youth who are infected by this virus reiterates a need for a new perspective on this global issue. Youth posses the creativity and drive to inform their peers about HIV and lower the infection rate. Organizations around the world have targeted youth in safe sex campaigns and HIV/AIDS education, yet because of the diversity of cultures, religion, and location, programs that may work to reduce infection rates in one region of the world are ineffective in others. Youth’s voices should be incorporated into these organizations to provide tailored methods of dealing with HIV/AIDS in their specific region.This could be done through youth teaching seminars, where young adults become trained to teach their peers. This could be complimented with a youth summit in which those that educate their peers around the world could exchange creative teaching strategies.

Organizations, such as the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA), work to incorporate youth in policy and programming decisions, empowering young people in a arena which has greatly affected the. With more organizations committed to giving youth a voice, children like Happiness will be represented in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

My name is April. I am a junior at Northwestern University where I study Social Policy. Getting involved in the fight against HIV has become a passion of mine since high school, when I volunteered for the Minnesota AIDS Project. Since then I have worked in Tanzania, Washington DC, Chicago and New York learning and teaching about this important issue.

By Sydney Kornegay
Sydney is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about Sydney below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

Mwawi Nyirongo is an unexpected force, a woman whose stamina overshadows her stature. The fragile, five-foot Malawian doctor may not look strong, but after watching her work in rural Africa- nursing abandoned HIV/AIDS infants, treating malaria, and attending to the old, arthritic agogos in her village  – I was convinced. She’s a superhero.

Despite her endless energy, Mwawi is quick to admit she can’t do it all. “I have always believed that no man can work like an island if we want development,” she says. “The communities in Malawi really need others’ brilliant ideas.”

Mwawi’s statement underscores the need for individuals across the globe to combine perspectives, passions, and expertise in solving international issues. While Mwawi plays an important role as a front-line fieldworker, we as youth are vital in helping stimulate those new, “brilliant’ ideas that Mwawi is looking for.

We are the ones who can ask challenging questions of our governments, NGO’s, and communities. Through political advocacy and community mobilization, we can ask what can be done for the 11.6 million AIDS orphans in Sub-Sahara, or the 100 million street children across the globe. We can push these questions to the forefront of the political agenda on behalf of our peers in the developing world.

We can also serve as communicators. Through our access to and understanding of new media outlets and social networking, we can both ask questions and communicate solutions. We can educate ourselves about global health issues, and put a personal face to those problems for our friends and communities.

Finally, we can combine our ability to ask questions, access information, and communicate issues to a broader audience with the medical expertise of people like Mwawi. Through collaboration across cultures and generations, skill sets and knowledge bases, we can serve as another unexpected force.

As a senior Political Science Major at Davidson College, Sydney Kornegay believes that issues of global health, development, and social justice are best studied outside the classroom.  She has spent four summers working with an organization for HIV/AIDS orphans in Malawi, Africa, and a semester studying and interning in development and women’s health in rural India. She enjoys exploring other cultures at home and abroad- either through travel, salsa dancing, or playing the African djembes. She believes students have the potential to be powerful sources of change in international issues, by educating themselves, their communities, and advocating for change.

By Michaela Maynard
Michaela is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about Michaela below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

I don’t give it much thought when I pick up my birth control pills each month from the pharmacy.  I know that if I need them, I can walk to the store and buy condoms. On Tuesday nights, I watch MTV’s 16 and Pregnant.  As young Americans, we have the luxury of living in a society where reproductive health is accessible and topics like sex are becoming less taboo. Unfortunately, other countries in the world are not as progressive when it comes to issues surrounding sexual and reproductive health.

Each year, over 3 million females endure the dangerous tradition of female genital mutilation. At least 100,000 women every year are left incontinent and ostracized from their communities due to obstetric fistula.  Today, women account for almost half of the 33 million people living with HIV. This past May, the birth control pill turned 50 years old, yet many women don’t have access to contraception.

Barriers to women’s health are complicated, but the solution doesn’t have to be. In Malawi, Africa, Girl Guides are playing a role in improving the sexual and reproductive health of themselves and their peers. The Girl Guides Association is dedicated to teaching females about HIV/AIDS, promoting gender equality and safe sex practices, and inspiring young women to achieve their goals. Through education and empowerment the Girl Guides have the knowledge and the courage to make decisions about their health and their sex life, and little by little, they are establishing safer and better lives for themselves.  All women deserve this kind of girl power.

Michaela has a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Language and Literature from the University of Rhode Island and a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Global Health from the George Washington University. She resides in Rhode Island where she is employed at a local hospital as a HIV/hepatitis C Clinical Research Assistant. In 2007, Michaela traveled to Malawi, Africa as the inaugural recipient of the Americans for UNFPA Student Award. She is an advocate for the health and rights of women all over the world.

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