Africa Outreach ProjectOn June 26, 2021, actress Charlize Theron held a gathering at Universal Studios during the first showing of the “F9” movie. The event was to promote the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project. The occasion featured an outdoor party where celebrities auctioned donations for the foundation. There was also a question and answer session with the actors and producers of the new “Fast and Furious” movie, including Charlize Theron, Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster, and the film director, Justin Lin. The gala was just one of the ways Theron utilizes her celebrity platform to aid South Africans suffering from HIV.

The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project

Theron created the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project in 2007. The project prevents the spread of HIV by aiding in the healthcare and education of young people. The project’s primary goal is to allow young Africans to have promising futures free from disease and give them an equal chance at life. To further this commitment, the initiative assists other African firms in helping address societal needs by providing university grants to young Africans.

Many solutions exist in the fight against the spread of HIV in South Africa, including education. South African women are less probable to get HIV if they complete university. In this way, providing young people with access to quality education intertwines with the fight against HIV. Accordingly, Theron’s gala directed the donations to helping South Africans receive the necessary education to remain healthy and live productive and fulfilling lives.

The Need for Aid

According to the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, 67% of people infected with HIV reside in South Africa. The organization projects that 26 million people in the area currently live with HIV. In addition, almost 4,600 South Africans are diagnosed with HIV per week. Moreover, South Africa “represents less than 1% of the world’s population” but constitutes 20% of those infected with HIV worldwide.

The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project also states that education in South Africa is plagued with challenges such as school abandonment and limited accessibility to school supplies. As a result, citizens have a tough time finishing school. In fact, nearly 50% of South Africans who begin college leave prior to finishing their studies.

Furthermore, many young students experience the burdens of absent teachers, substance abuse, sexual abuse and early pregnancy on top of being impoverished. Consequently, less than half of students who start the first grade end up graduating from 12th grade. In addition, a lower percentage of these young students are eligible for college. As such, the youth cannot contribute to the region’s economic development, which keeps the region impoverished.

Theron’s 2020 Fundraiser

In August 2020, Theron held a fundraising party similar to this year’s June 2021 gala. The 2020 fundraiser featured a drive-in screening of “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Once again, the proceeds went toward the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project. Theron held the event in the parking lot of the Grove Mall in Los Angeles. However, the party only allowed 90 vehicles due to COVID-19 guidelines and cost $1,000 for two individuals. Attendants remained in their cars and listened in to “the night’s audio” by tuning into 89.1 FM.

Theron has used her celebrity platform to raise awareness about successful approaches to stop the spread of HIV and safeguard those already infected with it. The star’s strategy to encourage donations is very creative and garners much-needed support in the fight against HIV. Through more galas or other creative fundraising avenues, the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project will be able to sustain the valuable aid it provides to young Africans by improving access to education and decreasing the risk of HIV.

Jannique McDonald
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS in EswatiniDue to its investments and reliable infrastructure, Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, is one of the most stable African countries. Similarly, Eswatini runs an internationally recognized, successful educational and training institution known as the BirchCooper Graduate Institute. Despite the ability to provide a high quality of life to citizens, Eswatini has the highest HIV prevalence in the world. However, the country is taking positive steps to combat HIV/AIDS in Eswatini, which one can clearly see in its most recent HIV/AIDS achievements.

The Problem

There are many factors that contribute to high rates of HIV/AIDS in Eswatini, such as multiple sexual partners, low condom usage, sexual violence and commercial sex. Due to these factors, HIV/AIDS has reached a staggering 27% rate among adults. While this rate is already high, women and girls are at an even higher risk of HIV/AIDS in Eswatini due to income inequality.

In Eswatini, social barriers cause many women to engage in transactional sex to earn money. This practice increases the risk of HIV and further fuels the HIV epidemic. In fact, while young women in Gambia, South Africa, the Congo and Gabon are three times more likely to have HIV than young men, young women in Eswatini are five times more likely to have HIV than young men.

5 Facts About HIV/AIDS in Eswatini

  1. Due to how quickly the epidemic is spreading, HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death in Eswatini.
  2. Because of the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Eswatini, more than 95% of adults and 84% of children are on antiretroviral treatment.
  3. Due to the impact of drought and other factors, economic growth has stagnated and the poverty rate remains high at almost 60% in 2017. Impoverished countries usually lack adequate resources for an effective HIV/AIDS response.
  4. Gender discrimination is prevalent in Eswatini, with females experiencing significantly more HIV/AIDs stigmatization than males. Women also receive less economic, educational and emotional support.
  5. The high HIV/AIDS rate in Eswatini significantly impacts children as roughly 45,000 children from 0-17 have become orphans due to AIDS-related parent mortality.

Taking Strategic Action

Eswatini has made significant efforts to address the HIV/AIDs epidemic. Eswatini has implemented the National Multisectoral HIV and AIDS Strategic Framework (NSF) 2018-2023 with multiple objectives:

  • Decrease HIV rates among people aged 15-49 by 85%.
  • In the age bracket of 15-24, reduce HIV prevalence by 85%.
  • Decrease “new HIV infections among infants aged 0-1 year to less than 0.05%.”
  • Reduce AIDs-related deaths by half.

Aside from prevention and treatment aspects, the strategy also includes social protection and assistance, covering “orphaned and vulnerable children,” gender-based violence issues and HIV stigma.

The Good News

Eswatini’s efforts to combat its HIV/AIDS epidemic have been extremely successful in helping alleviate its HIV burden. In December 2020, Eswatini became “the first country in Africa to achieve the United Nations HIV targets.”

The 95-95-95 goal directs that, by 2030, 95% of people would be aware of their HIV status, 95% of affected people would be on treatment and 95% of those on treatment would be virally suppressed. In fact, Eswatini reached this goal 10 years before the expected year of 2030. This success is a clear indication that Eswatini has made significant strides in controlling HIV/AIDS.

As the burdens of HIV have damaged the fabric of Eswatini society with serious physical, mental, social and economic implications for its citizens, the country is moving toward a better and brighter future. Eswatini’s success serves as an inspiration for other countries battling the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Calvin Franke
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS in Israel
With the marvels of medical technology, medical professionals can now cure most infections and diseases with a combination of treatments and pharmaceutical drugs. However, it is challenging for them to treat some viruses still. Amongst the stubborn viruses that still elude the medical communities’ ability is the HIV/AIDS virus, a diagnosis that for too many means the end of living a normal life. The effects of HIV/AIDS in Israel have been profound and COVID-19 may worsen the situation.

The Effects of HIV/AIDS in Israel

Following the first case of AIDS in the 1980s, the world bore witness to an epidemic that swept the globe in an unprecedented manner. From 1981 to 2010, Israel reported nearly 10,000 cases, with around 7,000 of them still ongoing in the country. People living with HIV/AIDS in Israel fall into some of the most vulnerable groups in society. This includes injecting drug users and immigrants. Israeli immigrants, often from countries like Sudan, China and Eritrea, often face obstacles receiving treatment for AIDS. While testing is free, the pathway to HIV/AIDs drugs remains expensive and out of reach for many. This creates a socioeconomic divide on who has access to treatment and who does not. According to a report by the Israeli Task Force, many immigrants are unaware of their access to free testing.

COVID-19 Compounding Consequences

Since the beginning, nation-states have strived to mitigate the effects of the HIV/AIDS virus on their populations. Communities most at risk often face marginalization and are disproportionately at risk of poverty. The COVID-19 pandemic has halted services to help these groups. This has caused many to fall into poverty. The Health Ministry of Israel worries that poverty and food and housing insecurity will rise due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, the Health Ministry of Israel is collaborating with other government sectors to create and strengthen initiatives to fight HIV/AIDS. For example, needle exchange programs, homeless shelters and meals all function as efforts to combat the effects of HIV/AIDS in Israel. Health officials in these programs are now essential as the government prepares for a rise in cases.

The Good News

As a result, Israel is taking steps in the right direction to fight HIV/AIDS. Within society, a conservative outlook on sex and the religious practice of circumcision keep the numbers relatively low. In addition regional cooperation inside of Israel with IGOs like the UN and WHO have made workshops and collaboration with Israeli NGOs and the Jerusalem AIDS Project. Israeli researchers are some of the world’s foremost pioneers and drivers of HIV/AIDS vaccine research and in 2019 introduced a ‘mosaic’ vaccine that identifies and responds to more variant strains of the HIV virus. Though HIV/AIDS is still a prevalent issue, Israel is making great strides in combating the virus.

– Alex Pinamang
Photo: Flickr

In 2020, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) undisclosed its global strategy to end AIDS by 2030. The strategy, which started in May 2020 and will continue for the next decade, is a complex global program. This strategy defines AIDS as a public health threat and its main goal is to end it.

A Complex Timeline

UNAIDS’ global strategy is based on equity and human rights. Consequently, it aims to increase public awareness about AIDS, end discrimination toward those infected and improve access to treatments. This plan focuses on increasing the international response to people with AIDS to end the active transmission of the virus.
The ten-year-long plan contains various steps and phases. UNAIDS’ strategy includes meeting different targets inside these phases. For instance, within the ten-year plan, the 2025 target focuses on the need for global social and health services for infected people. By 2025, UNAIDS intends to improve the global response to poverty, discrimination and treatments to people living with AIDS.

Past Targets and Current Phases

Phase one of the long-term strategy began in May 2020 and ended in August of the same year. It consisted of quantitative surveys, interviews, consultations and discussions with stakeholders. The goal of these discussions was to gather data on the last UNAIDS strategy (2016-2020).
In 2020, UNAIDS discussed different issues concerning HIV with more than 10,000 stakeholders. They considered crucial topics such as political leadership, partnerships, COVID-19 and health coverage about AIDS.
The second phase of the UNAIDS plan is still in progress. During phase two, UNAIDS focused on analyzing and synthesizing the data gathered in phase one. In March 2021, UNAIDS introduced the results and new strategy to the Programme Coordinating Board (PCB). Reviews represent an essential part of UNAIDS’ strategy development process.

A Global Effort on Different Levels

UNAIDS intends to build programs that will help support everyone infected with AIDS. The internal units of UNAIDS work together to achieve both secondary and primary goals toward ending AIDS. For instance, UNAIDS staff, secretariat and advisory group cooperate to reach marginalized people.
In addition to internal collaboration, UNAIDS works on a global scale. For instance, UNAIDS works jointly with civil society organizations, individual experts, academia and research experts, development agencies, marginalized and key individuals or communities and inter-governmental organizations. UNAIDS staff collaborate with the private sector, associations, PCB partners and member states. This complex and effective system enables UNAIDS to achieve its goals, get international support and reach people on a global scale. UNAIDS embodies collaboration at international levels.

HIV Organizations Intensify their Efforts

Local non-profit organizations are part of the global effort to end AIDS. When UNAIDS revealed its next strategy to end AIDS, local HIV organizations intensified their efforts to work conjointly with UNAIDS. One organization, Together! ACT Now, a local HIV non-profit organization, stepped up to reach the UNAIDS 2030 commitment. This non-profit focuses on raising awareness in Malawi through education, theatres and group discussions. For instance, the organization put together a program called “Stronger Together! Community HIV Village Group”. This program provided workshops with AIDS experts, art sessions to express creativity and mobile clinics.
Together! ACT made progress in Malawi: it helped 90% of seropositive people aware of their status. 87% of these people are now receiving treatment.
UNAIDS’ next strategy to end AIDS by 2030 shows promise as it considers past failures, reviews and adapts to the current challenging sanitary context. To efficiently fight stigma, discrimination and virus transmission, it remains crucial to work on all levels simultaneously.  International collaboration coupled with national processes and local fieldwork is essential in fighting a global health issue, especially during a global pandemic.

-Soizic Lecocq
Photo: Flickr

Progress Against HIV/AIDS in ThailandIn the last decade, Thailand has made significant efforts to reduce HIV/AIDS transmission and deaths, resulting in a dramatic decrease in one of the world’s most stigmatized diseases and an effective model for other countries to follow.

HIV — first identified in 1981 — is a viral infection that attacks the human immune system and spreads through bodily fluids. If left untreated, it can cause AIDS, a condition with which most people only survive a few years. There is no cure for HIV/AIDS, but there are treatments such as antiretroviral therapy that can keep the infection from progressing to AIDS.

HIV/AIDS in Thailand

The first case of HIV/AIDS in Thailand was in 1985, and the country continues to have one of the highest rates of the disease in Asia and the Pacific. An estimated 470,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS in Thailand, and 14,000 AIDS-related deaths occurred in the country in 2019.

Like in other countries, the Thai populations most at risk for HIV/AIDS are those living in poverty or otherwise on the margins of society. These circumstances can reduce access to healthcare and testing, which is made worse by the heavy stigmatization of the disease.

Progress in Thailand

However, the Thai government has made substantial progress against the virus after making it one of the country’s prioritized health initiatives. In 2006, Thailand incorporated HIV services into its universal healthcare system, and now testing and treatment are free for anyone who might need them.

Awareness campaigns have also had a large impact on the state of HIV/AIDS in Thailand. The government has partnered with civil society groups to increase public knowledge both about the disease and preventative measures. Another important aspect of these partnerships has been specific efforts to reduce the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.

Since 2010, the rate of new infections in Thailand has dropped 65%, and AIDS-related deaths have fallen 44%. These improvements have directly resulted from the efforts to increase awareness and improve access to healthcare and testing. Of the Thai population living with HIV, 80% are on antiretroviral treatment, and 78% have suppressed viral loads preventing the infection from progressing to AIDS.

Thailand is also the first country that has nearly eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS. Now, less than 2% of children test positive for HIV after being exposed. This has significantly reduced the number of children who are infected and need antiretroviral care.

Future Goals

With all of this progress, the government is in a strong position to continue reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Thailand. The country still has not met UNAIDS’ 90-90-90 targets where 90% of those HIV positive are aware of their status, 90% are on antiretroviral treatment and 90% have suppressed viral loads. However, Thailand’s efforts remain an important international model of effective policy against HIV/AIDS.

Through its focus on decreasing the number of new infections and improving access to antiretroviral treatment, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Thailand has decreased. Along with its prioritization of spreading information and awareness about the disease and its transmission, Thailand has created an effective method for tackling HIV/AIDS.

– Nicole Ronchetti
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment in Botswana
The AIDS crisis shook the world in the 1980s, but some countries, including Botswana, are still trying to find their footing in terms of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in Botswana has been a struggle, but the country is taking the right steps forward to fight the virus.

HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment in Botswana

Botswana has the fourth-highest rate of HIV in the world, with a rate of 20.3%. In 2000, the peak rate was 26.3% and rates have decreased every year since. The National AIDS Coordinating Agency created a treatment plan to offer universal free antiretroviral treatment (ART), making Botswana the first country in the Southern African region to do so. This effectively reduced the rates of HIV in Botswana.

This first strategy for treatment is simple. The test and treat strategy gives people who test positive for HIV access to immediate treatment. With enough treatment, HIV levels can become so low that they are undetectable on a test. However, this does not mean treatment should be stopped. Continued treatment is necessary in order to maintain an “undetectable viral load,” which means the chance of a person transmitting HIV is zero.

Women and HIV/AIDS

More than half (56%) of people who have HIV in Botswana are women. HIV disproportionately affects women in Botswana for reasons including sex work, forced marriage, domestic violence and more. Botswana’s HIV prevention strategy includes offering protective solutions as 85% of condoms available in the country are free. However, the country’s sex education is vague and does not cater to women or young people.

Many women contract HIV at a young age because of forced youth marriage, domestic violence and more. Botswana’s sex education program holds ideas such as faithfulness and cultural traditions as the basis of its programs. Without comprehensive and adequate sex education, Botswana’s HIV rates remain high even though treatment is easily accessible.

HIV’s disproportionate effect on women in Botswana triggered the creation of a second treatment plan called Option B+. Option B+ functions similarly to the test and treat strategy, but is specific to women. Since women can pass HIV on to children, after a woman tests positive for HIV once, she receives ART for the rest of her life under Option B+, regardless of whether the HIV becomes undetectable on a test. This lowers the chance of a woman passing HIV on to a baby, which reduces HIV rates among the general population.

Looking Ahead

Botswana’s treatment plans for HIV and AIDS using ART transformed the country from struggling with an epidemic to having a strong plan for it. As of 2017, out of 380,000 people who had HIV in Botswana, 320,000 of them had access to treatment. Botswana is on its way to ending AIDS as a public health threat through its treatment plans.

– Sana Mamtaney
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDs in the United Kingdom
HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom frequently affects those in poverty or with limited socioeconomic status. The National AIDS Trust and the Terrence Higgins Trust on Poverty and HIV performed research to determine why HIV-positive people in the U.K. are frequently poor. According to the findings of the inquiry in October 2009, the U.K. government cut single asylum seekers’ weekly assistance from £64.30 to £35.13 or £5 a day. Another 17% of applications cited issues with the compensation system as the root of their dissatisfaction. The concerns included waiting for a benefit decision, changes to the benefit plan and delays in receiving benefits for those who had entitlement to them.

The Relationship Between HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom and Poverty

The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3) is the most comprehensive scientific study of sexual wellbeing and lifestyles in the U.K. Researchers examined the effect of poverty in significant depth in the Natsal-3 review. It found that women who live in low-income areas have a greater prevalence of chlamydia than other women. Poverty affects some people more than others; for example, one out of every three people living with HIV is poor. Entry to healthcare for HIV-positive people is still a big challenge.

The connection between HIV and poverty is complex, but the subject requires more attention. According to the Natsal-3 survey, almost half of U.K.-based black British people (47%) live in the poorest areas, while only 4% live in the richest. More research is necessary to better understand how socioeconomic status and ethnicity interact. Researchers have also found that socioeconomic status and ethnicity are key factors in the rise of STIs rates among black British people in the U.K.

HIV/AIDS and COVID-19

According to a U.K.-based study, over 17 million HIV-positive people are more vulnerable to COVID-19 than HIV-negative individuals. The Lancet HIV report also confirmed that COVID-19 death is more than twice as likely in HIV-positive individuals. The researchers compared patients with and without HIV infection who had a primary care record. To estimate the link between HIV infection and COVID-19 death, the researchers used Cox regression models. The study included a total of 17,282,905 adults, with 27,480 of them having HIV. During the study period, 14,882 COVID-19 deaths occurred, with 25 of those being HIV-positive people. After adjusting for age and sex, the researchers found that people with HIV had a greater risk of COVID-19 death. After accounting for deprivation, ethnicity, smoking and obesity, they discovered that the link was weaker, but the risk remained high. Sharing HIV/AIDS information has a positive influence on people’s lives.

The Consortium for Street Children

Unfortunately, HIV/AIDS also presents a challenge to U.K. children who live on the street. However, the Consortium for Street Children is attempting to make a difference.

The Consortium for Street Children is a coalition of 37 organizations dedicated to the rights of street children based in the U.K. According to the Consortium for Street Children, up to 9,500 children spent Christmas 2018 in makeshift shelters or hostels. The Consortium for Street Children’s mission is to protect children from sex trafficking on the streets. It ensures legal protection and access to justice for children on the streets. The Consortium for Street Children is undertaking research to develop a common approach that the sector can use to increase data quality on how many children there are living on the streets. Children may migrate to the streets for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Engaging in criminal activity
  • Experiencing rejection from their family due to perceptions of morality
  • Contracting HIV/AIDS
  • Mental health challenges
  • Engagement in substance abuse
  • Gender identity and sexual orientation
  • Abuse of a Sexual, physical or emotional nature
  • Urbanization

Looking Ahead

Despite the challenges of HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom, studies are encouraging an understanding of it in relation to poverty. Moreover, the efforts of the Consortium for Street Children should continue providing aid to U.K. street children and reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among them.

– Monwabisi Mpepe
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS in Lesotho  Africa may not have the densest population; nonetheless, it is the continent with the most HIV-afflicted occupants. Lesotho, a small country in Africa, currently has the highest HIV prevalence in Africa and second in the world with 340,000 infected habitants. From mountain ranges to river valleys, the division of regions causes the country to face issues regarding giving access to healthcare in every village. Women experiencing exposure to HIV/AIDS in Lesotho, which endangers health and safety. Moreover, they can pass it on to their offspring while pregnant. Phelisanang Bophelong, a South African initiative, works in “improving young people’s access to HIV friendly services to engage in sexual health and working with prison inmates to ensure they have access to HIV prevention and care services.”

Healthcare in Lesotho

Lesotho, a developing nation in the south of Africa, has seen improvements in the health sector. Nonetheless, some civilians do not receive healthcare services. Rural areas are most affected because of the lack of infrastructure, such as roads between villages. The public sector has compromised to expand the healthcare sector to reach the rural population. Between the 2000s-2010, Lesotho reported having 62 nurses and five doctors per 100,000 habitants. In 2011, the government built new hospitals, and more doctors joined the workforce. Lesotho sees a bright future ahead of it with the support of NGOs like Phelisanang Bophelong and an emergency relief plan on behalf of the United States.

Rural Health Initiatives

HIV/AIDS in Lesotho has become an alarming problem, yet the government has relentlessly increased human resources. Other countries have contributed to emergency relief aid, such as the United States through UNAIDS, which aims to help test citizens and provide antiretroviral therapy. Currently, the mission has covered 81% of the communities across Lesotho.

In 2006, Lesotho’s government launched a healthcare program in rural areas that served 90,000 people. The Ministry of Health launched a new program that involves testing and counseling. It introduced mobile clinics to rural areas which have shown positive results.

Phelisanang Bophelong in Lesotho

In Lesotho, about 23.6% of people between the ages of 15 and 24 currently have HIV. A big problem in countries such as Lesotho is the lack of information about sexual health. Phelisanang Bophelong works to encourage young people to become aware of HIV and its effects. Phelisanang Bophelong is motivating the young population to prevent HIV. It is also incentivizing prison inmates to access care services to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. The NGO managed to diagnose and provide treatment to 200 people with HIV while raising awareness. It has also helped 6,113 young individuals reach out to healthcare services.

While there is always room for improvement, the situation surrounding HIV/AIDS in Lesotho has exponentially improved. NGOs such as Phelisanang Bophelong have promoted sexual health in young adults. This incentive has led to millions of citizens receiving testing for HIV/AIDS while preventing the expansion of it in the country. Meanwhile, relief aid from the United States has prevented illnesses, malnutrition and death in Lesotho. Additionally, the implementation of mobile clinics has given people medical access in harder-to-reach areas.

– Ainara Ruano
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS in Mozambique
The East African country of Mozambique has struggled to control the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Since its introduction to southern Africa in the late 1980s, the adult prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Mozambique is around 12.10% – the seventh-highest rate in the world. However, there is good news. Infection rates and deaths that relate to AIDS are decreasing and the country is feeling a surge of international support. Here are three ways in which Mozambique is currently fighting against the epidemic.

Grants

In February 2021, the Government of Mozambique, the Global Fund and other medical partners launched six new grants to expand treatment and service options for HIV, TB and malaria. Actions like this are causing HIV/AIDS in Mozambique to experience a downward trend in cases and deaths.

With greater funds, HIV treatment will become more available. In fact, one can attribute greater access to treatment to the “29% decrease in the number of AIDS-related deaths” from 2006 to 2019. These particular grants are significant because they are worth $773,913,131, a figure that is 49% larger than the previous allocation amount.

The financial assistance aims to reach vulnerable populations, especially adolescent girls, and to make testing widespread. Mozambique is working towards creating strong, sustainable health systems. Health officials are hopeful that these grants will put the country on the path to self-sufficiency where external help is no longer necessary.

Medicine

There have also been recent developments in the world of pharmaceuticals. Mozambique launched a new preventative drug for tuberculosis (TB) on March 24, 2021, which is World Tuberculosis Day. Although this drug does not specifically treat people with HIV/AIDS in Mozambique, the two ailments inextricably connect. HIV greatly weakens the body’s immune system and puts people at high risk for diseases like TB.

The Mozambique Health Minister, Armindo Tiago, explicitly stated, “this programme is aimed at people living with HIV/AIDS.” The new system reduces pill intake from nine to three pills a week and the treatment duration from up to 36 months to just three months. According to Unitaid, “up to 3 million patients are expected to be made available for eligible countries this year.” These countries include Mozambique, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

This shorter, less invasive treatment intends to attract more people seeking medical therapy. If proven successful, it is likely that the number of HIV-related deaths will drop. As a result, Mozambique should gain the upper hand in the fight against communicable diseases.

Clinics

The U.S. NGO, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, is helping combat HIV/AIDS in Mozambique. This organization focuses on preventing pediatric HIV and ending pediatric AIDS all over the world. On March 15, 2021, the NGO donated two mobile clinics that will serve the cities of Maputo, Matola and the district of Marracuene.

The organization intends to provide primary care as well as sexual and reproductive health services to 3,000 young people. It chose the areas of Matola, the district of Marracuene and Maputo because of the high number of teenagers who need “more accurate information” about sexual health and sexually transmitted diseases. The mobile clinics have services for HIV/AIDS testing, tuberculosis, cancer screening, counseling and more.

Implementing these three forms of aid furthers the country’s efforts to make healthcare more accessible for those who need it most. Mozambique is a demonstration of how people across the world are still passionately fighting against HIV/AIDS.

– Lucy Gentry
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS in SenegalHIV/AIDS is an epidemic that is most prevalent in Africa. Many countries across the continent are acutely affected or struggle to control the disease. One country that has handled the crisis expertly is Senegal. A low-income country in West Africa, Senegal would look to be a prime candidate for a difficult path regarding HIV/AIDS. However, HIV/AIDS in Senegal is relatively low in cases and in damage.

HIV/AIDS in Senegal

Senegal has become a model for controlling HIV/AIDS across the developing world. The country of 16 million people manages to keep the prevalence and spread of HIV/AIDS low while providing many methods to increase knowledge of the disease. There are only 41,000 people in Senegal living with HIV/AIDS as of 2019.

The prevalence rate of people living with HIV/AIDS stands at 0.4 among adults between 15 and 49, with men having a 0.3 prevalence rate and women having a 0.4 prevalence rate. There were only around 1,400 new cases of HIV/AIDS in Senegal in 2019 and 1,200 deaths. There has been a 37% decrease in HIV/AIDS cases since 2010 and a 26% decrease in deaths. Roughly 70% of people with HIV/AIDS receive antiretroviral treatment. Senegal was the first sub-Saharan country to establish an antiretroviral treatment program in 1998 and is one of the few countries in Africa that provides such treatment for free.

Smart Senegalese Strategies

Senegal’s success is due to several methods of raising awareness about HIV and increasing treatment and prevention plans. Senegal took HIV/AIDS very seriously even in the earliest days of the spread. In 1986, Senegal was one of the first African nations to develop a National Council Against AIDS, which has remained effective and stable. The country was also one of the first to focus on securing antiretroviral drugs and negotiated deals with pharmaceutical companies in order to provide them for free or at a low cost.

The Senegalese government has continued to make HIV/AIDS a priority. In 1992, Senegalese president, Abdou Diouf, showed leadership by asking other leaders to make a commitment to addressing HIV/AIDS at a summit for the Organization of African Unity. This attitude has led to sustained success. Since 1997, Senegal’s HIV/AIDS prevalence rate has remained below 1%, a remarkable achievement as prevalence rates across Africa have frequently soared above 10%.

Senegal’s basic strategy has remained consistent. The country emphasizes awareness, provides medical resources and works with the powerful local regional communities to stop the spread. Public health initiatives including blood screenings, education programs in schools and condom distribution are common. NGOs also provide a lot of help in health initiatives and raising awareness.

Crucial in the success of preventing HIV/AIDS in Senegal is the support of religious leaders and the role of religion. Senegal is a 95% Muslim-based country, and generally, strict adherence to the religion leads to fewer incidents of casual sex and infidelity. In a largely religious country, the words of religious leaders are very important, especially as conspiracy theories around HIV/AIDS are common. Many religious figures talk openly about HIV/AIDS and promote solutions, which lends credibility to the danger of the disease and the government’s efforts to combat the disease.

A Role Model

HIV/AIDS in Senegal is well under control, which should be a great source of pride for the country. Senegal has taken HIV/AIDS seriously since the beginning and has a consistent and effective strategy that keeps the disease largely at bay.

Clay Hallee
Photo: Flickr