treating hiv in west and central africa
As of 2017, 1.8 million adolescents around the world are living with HIV. This accounts for five percent of total HIV cases. Approximately 1.5 million, or 85 percent, of these adolescents, live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Of this, 61 percent live in Eastern and Southern Africa and 24 percent live in West and Central Africa. The region with the second-highest HIV rates for adolescents in the world is West and Central Africa. Ending HIV in West and Central Africa requires strong national and international efforts to protect and treat children and adults.

One of the largest problems in the region is a lack of HIV testing. According to Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, a majority of children living with HIV are not receiving the proper care because they have never been tested and do not know they have the disease.

One way to resolve this is to ensure testing is being done at primary health facilities in communities, with a family-centered approach. It is equally important to increase testing and treatment for pregnant women. Only 47 percent of pregnant women with HIV in West and Central Africa were able to use antiretroviral medicines, which prevent transmission to the unborn child.

Gender Matters

Among adolescents, there are often gender disparities in HIV infections. In many parts of the world—including South Asia, East Asia, the Pacific, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa—more boys than girls between the ages of 15 and 19 were newly infected in 2017. Whereas in West, Central, Eastern and Southern Africa significantly more girls than boys were infected. In West and Central Africa, 66 percent of the new were girls, while only 34 percent were boys.

Women and girls in this region are particularly at risk of HIV because of cultural, social and economic inequalities. They are less likely to attend school. Girls that are uneducated are twice as likely to become infected with HIV than girls who have attended school. Additionally, uneducated girls are at a greater risk for partner violence, increasing the risk for HIV.

Access to healthcare is also a significant issue. Women’s inability to see a healthcare provider prevents life-saving testing and treatments. Approximately 50 percent of girls and young women in Sub-Saharan Africa are not allowed to make personal health decisions.

International Efforts

Ending HIV has long been a focus of international humanitarian organizations. Recently, with the increased focus on preventing HIV infections among adolescents, UNAIDS created ALL IN! This collaboration improves knowledge about HIV, as well as how it can be prevented and treated. The goal is to reduce new HIV infections by 75 percent by 2020, aiming for ending the epidemic by 2030.

UNAIDS reports that HIV has already decreased in some of the most severely affected countries due to the adoption of safer sexual practices by adolescents. Often, school is crucial to providing the necessary sex education.

Efforts to reduce HIV in West and Central Africa is not only being done by international organizations such as UNAIDS; governments and their partners are taking initiatives to better prevent and treat HIV in youth and adults.

In Côte d’Ivoire, the government made the decision to stop charging people for HIV testing and treatment services. Fees have long been a barrier for those who live in poverty. Currently, only 46 percent of those in Côte d’Ivoire living with HIV were accessing treatment. Hopefully, this initiative will begin to increase this number, helping nearly half a million people.

Treatments and Strategies

Those who are at a high risk of HIV in West and Central Africa but have not yet contracted the disease can take the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) regimen. A pilot study is taking place in Burkina Faso, focusing on providing this preventative treatment to the most vulnerable. This includes homosexual men, who often avoid medical treatment due to the stigma surrounding their sexuality.

Once the study, which began at the end of 2018, is completed the plan is to expand PrEP across the nation and, eventually, the entire region. Benjamin Sana, a participant in this pilot study, is thankful for the treatment and believes that PrEP has the potential to save lives.

In response to a new survey, Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president led the development of a Revised National HIV and AIDS Strategic Framework for 2019 to 2021. Since 2010, Nigeria has tripled the number of people who receive HIV treatment and adopted an effected test and treat policy in 2016.

The new strategy aims to ensure services are being delivered to the people who need them the most, even in remote areas with less health care access. One of their primary goals is to ensure that no more children are born with HIV in Nigeria, according to the president.

These efforts in Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Nigeria, as well as other countries in the region, will hopefully have a significant impact on the future of HIV in West and Central Africa, saving thousands of lives.

– Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr

UNAIDS
UNAIDS, established in 1996, is an organization dedicating to treating ailments such as AIDS and tuberculosis through the rights-based technique.

By approaching these issues having the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in mind, UNAIDS has been a pioneer in the remedying of such diseases, especially tuberculosis. In the article below, the way in which UNAIDS is working to end tuberculosis is presented.

Definition of Tuberculosis

Caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) bacteria, Tuberculosis (TB) is contracted when one person inspires droplets released by another infected person. These droplets can be loosed through a laugh, cough, sneeze, chatter and other similar actions.

The bacteria primarily attacks the lungs and can be detected if one develops a harsh cough, becomes rather feeble, begins to spit up blood and/or sputum, and experiences chest aches, among other things.

Latent tuberculosis occurs when somebody carries the TB bacteria, but does not display any signs, nor is contagious. These hosts rarely ever fully develop TB, but it’s still crucial to receive treatment, just for safe measure. The effects of TB, if the disease flourishes, can be immensely hazardous, and potentially fatal.

Tuberculosis Consequences

According to the UNAIDS website, tuberculosis is especially dangerous since it is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV, causing more than one-third of all AIDS-related deaths in 2015. Almost 60 percent of the estimated global HIV-related TB cases are not diagnosed and not treated.

Basically, the tuberculosis epidemic is heavily integrated into their journey to better the tempest that is called the AIDS disease.

The organization has strongly rallied behind the 2016 United Nations Political Declaration on Ending AIDS. This declaration is staunch on curtailing the number of TB-HIV-tied fatalities to 75 percent by the end of 2020 rolls.

How UNAIDS is Working to End Tuberculosis?

At the 42nd Programme Coordination Board (PBC) meeting, UNAIDS precisely defined how they plan on cutting the deaths down to their target percentage. In the report “Ending Tuberculosis and AIDS: A Joint Response in the Era of Sustainable Development Goals,” more specifically, in a table provided by World Health Organization (WHO), three steps in reducing tuberculosis deaths are defined.

These steps are: establish and strengthen the mechanism for delivering integrated TB and HIV services, reduce the burden of TB in people living with HIV and reduce the burden of HIV in people with presumptive and diagnosed TB.

Step one can be achieved by reducing the probability of HIV occurring in TB-infected people and vice- versa. Surveilling this issue closely can determine the mortality rate in such cases.

Step two can be reached by means of reinforcing observations and treatments. Making these treatments affordable is the key in reducing the rate of tuberculosis occurring in those infected with HIV by 2020.

Finally, the methodology of step three involves strong encouragement of getting tested and issuing prevention techniques to patients either already diagnosed or suspected of carrying the disease.

The report also suggests that people must crush the stigma and cruel judgment that shrouds those living with tuberculosis, HIV, or both. In the report, it was clearly stated that the unchallenged presence of stigma reduces the efficiency of TB and HIV programmes.

UNAIDS also chairs what is known as the H6 Partnership. This group consists of UNFPA, UNICEF, U.N. Women, WHO, UNAIDS, and the World Bank Group. Part and parcel to the Every Woman Every Child act, the partners also work to end tuberculosis in order to sustain maternal and child health.

UNAIDS is an organization that has a clear goal of eradicating serious world illnesses such as tuberculosis and AIDS. The UNAIDS is working to end tuberculosis through three clearly defined steps. The reduction of tuberculosis would help the people infected by AIDS as well, and the work of the organization must be universally recognized and helped by the governments from all over the world.

– Jordan de la Fuente

Photo: Flickr

Why HIV Treatment Is Becoming A Reality For People Everywhere
Just last year, it was announced that, for the first time in history, 50 percent of those infected with HIV/AIDS were receiving treatment. This landmark achievement is a massive process with different factors worldwide, but it’s all an interconnected humanitarian struggle against this life-threatening disease. 
As the year moves closer to 2019, it’s important to evaluate the measures being taken to keep the epidemic at bay and to take a closer look at the future of HIV/AIDS treatment worldwide.

A Survey of The World

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, known as UNAIDS, reported in 2017 that, of the 36.7 million people living with HIV/AIDS, 19.5 million are now receiving life-saving treatment in the form of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs).

This trend has risen steadily since 2014 when UNAIDS announced that, if countries could meet the following goals for 2030, the global HIV/AIDS epidemic would be eliminated. Some of these goals are:

  • 90 percent of those with HIV are aware they carry the virus
  • 90 percent of the previous group begins using ARVs for treatment
  • 90 percent of those receiving treatment continue their treatment and reduce the levels of the virus in their system to levels below standard testing baselines.

These goals may seem as though it sets the bar high. However, after calculating the data from 168 countries in 2017, the world was already at 75-79-81. Several countries are doing exceedingly well: Iceland, Singapore, Sweden, Botswana, Cambodia, Denmark and the United Kingdom.

These nations have managed to keep the virus in 73 percent of the carrying population suppressed. This means that, after receiving HIV/AIDS treatment, 73 percent of individuals have such low levels of the virus in their blood that the disease is no longer transferable by them to another person.

An Uncertain Future

Though the world has made tremendous progress in recent years in controlling the number of HIV patients, much of this progress has to do with aid provided by the U.S. In 2018, the Trump Administration has been proposing cuts to the U.S. Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program. As one of America’s major global health initiatives, PEPFAR is responsible for HIV/AIDS treatment to millions of patients around the world.

President Trump’s budget proposal would strip PEPFAR’s funding from $6 billion to $5 billionThis is significant, as this program benefits those living along east and southern Africa. This area contains the highest concentration of those living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. The $1 billion cut would result in 1.8 million deaths over the next ten years in South Africa and The Ivory Coast alone. Those currently receiving ARV treatment will not lose their access to the life-saving medications they need because of the budget cuts.

Though the outcome for the future is uncertain, currently the world has been succeeding in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and HIV/AIDS treatment is becoming a reality worldwide. If countries worldwide can stay on track in meeting UNAIDS guidelines, then the global community may see this notorious virus eliminated by 2030.

Jason Crosby
Photo: Flickr

HIV in Africa: Myth vs Fact
The existence of HIV and AIDS may be widely known, but there are plenty of misconceptions lingering about the viruses. This epidemic is serious and scary for many people, sometimes causing excessive stigma. HIV is a global issue but remains most largely concentrated in underdeveloped regions, most notably, Africa.

Knowledge about HIV, early detection, diagnosis and treatment has improved markedly since it was first recorded. Below are some commonly accepted beliefs regarding AIDS and HIV in Africa and a breakdown of the myths and facts associated with each.

HIV-Positive Individuals Are Highly Contagious

Though HIV can be spread from person to person, it does not occur as easily as some may believe.

MYTHS — HIV cannot be transmitted through saliva, skin-to-skin contact, or sharing common facilities such as bathrooms, kitchens or living/working spaces. It is safe to casually touch an HIV positive individual, or even share a drink with them.

FACTS — HIV can be spread through only these specific bodily fluids: blood, semen and pre-seminal fluid, breast milk, and vaginal and/or anal fluids. Even when these types of contact have been made between an infected person and a non-infected person, transmission is not absolutely certain.

Spreading HIV is Reckless Behavior That is Easy to Prevent

MYTHS — People who have been diagnosed with HIV infect other people intentionally and should be more careful in stopping the spread of HIV.

FACTS — Many infected people do not know that they are HIV positive. In fact, nearly 70 percent of individuals living with the virus are unaware. Symptoms of HIV can be very subtle, so when a person becomes infected it can easily go undetected. Many people living in Africa do not have access to contraception, testing, or treatment due to poverty and thus, the spread of HIV is not due to reckless behavior.

Contracting HIV Can Be Easily Prevented by Living a Respectable Lifestyle

MYTHS — HIV and AIDS are the results of unprotected or gay sex, or from injecting drugs with infected needles. Women, straight men and people who do not use drugs cannot get HIV or AIDS.

FACTS — While the most common methods of transmission are through sharing infected needles and unprotected sex (for both women and men), other methods exist. Mothers in Africa have been known to spread the virus to their babies through pregnancy, birth, or breast milk. If a non-positive person has an open wound, they may contract HIV if in contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids.

HIV in Africa is Due to Irresponsible Africans and Therefore It Is Their Responsibility

MYTHS — HIV and AIDS only exist in Africa and other poor countries; western countries should not be concerned.

FACTS — Seventy percent of all HIV cases are in Africa, while 30 percent are not in Africa. Swaziland, Africa has an infection rate of more than one-fourth of the population, and continent-wide, roughly one million deaths occur on an annual basis.

Though HIV in Africa is much more prominent than in other parts of the world, it takes effort and support from those in power to end the epidemic and provide care for those suffering in all parts of the world.

There is No Hope for the Deadly HIV Epidemic in Africa

MYTHS — Once HIV is contracted, the immune system shuts down, the quality of life degrades and life expectancy significantly decreases.

FACTS — HIV only progresses to AIDS when left untreated. Treatment for HIV does exist, suppressing the infection and allowing for a long and healthy life for those infected. However, treatment for HIV in Africa is less available.

In the southern parts of Africa alone, about one million HIV/AIDS-related deaths are recorded annually, and the regional life expectancies range from 49-54 years old due to HIV/AIDS. To combat this, UNAIDS developed a plan to end the AIDS epidemic by the year 2030. The steps include early detection, immediate and affordable treatment, gender equality, family planning, and an emphasis on the most susceptible populations.

The PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) has brought hope to ending the epidemic, and in 2017, decreased the number of newly reported HIV infections in young females by as much as 40 percent.

Moving forward with HIV in Africa, there is great hope in combatting the infection. As more medical knowledge is gained worldwide and acceptance of infected individuals is increasing, so is the quality of life for those living with HIV. The continued attention on the spread and prevention of HIV will be a substantial contributor to the successful end of this global health risk.

– Heather Benton

Photo: Flickr

UNAIDS: Efforts to End HIV/AIDS in East and Southern Africa
UNAIDS is the international movement working to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic worldwide by 2030, which aligns with the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. Its fight against HIV/AIDS in East and Southern Africa has seen encouraging results.

In 2016, UNAIDS created the 90-90-90 targets for 2020, aiming to have 90 percent of all people with HIV know they are HIV positive, 90 percent of those who know their status receive antiretroviral therapy (ART) consistently and 90 percent of those receiving treatment show viral suppression (having no symptoms of HIV/AIDS).

HIV/AIDS in East and Southern Africa a Main Target of UNAIDS

East and Southern Africa is the region of the world most impacted by HIV/AIDS. UNAIDS estimates that 19.4 million people in that region have HIV/AIDS. However, since the creation of the 90-90-90 targets and the subsequent implementation of more rigorous prevention and treatment programs, tremendous progress has been made towards curbing the transmission of and deaths from HIV/AIDS.

These statistics show how East and Southern Africa are faring in each of the 90-90-90 categories:

  1. Knowing Status
    According to a UNAIDS Special Analysis from 2017, in 2016, 14.7 million of an estimated 19.4 million people with HIV/AIDS in East and Southern Africa knew their status. That is 76 percent, up from 72 percent the previous year.
  2. Receiving Antiretroviral Therapy
    Seven million people with HIV/AIDS in East and Southern Africa are on ART. This means that 60 percent of all people with HIV (up from 53 percent in 2015)—or 79 percent of those who know their status—are receiving treatment.
  3. Showing Viral Suppression
    Seven million people on ART in this region show suppressed viral loads. Thus, 50 percent of people with HIV in East and Southern Africa (up from 45 percent in 2015)—which is equivalent to 83 percent of those receiving ART—show viral suppression.

Both the infection rate and death rate from HIV/AIDS are improving. Infection rates peaked between 1995 and 1998, when UNAIDS estimates that 1.7 million people in East and Southern Africa were newly infected each year. The decline began in 1990 and has continued. In 2016, UNAIDS estimated that 790,000 people contracted HIV/AIDS, down from 850,000 a year before.

Deaths from HIV/AIDS in East and Southern Africa peaked about a decade later than infection rates did, with approximately one million people dying annually between 2004 and 2006. In 2010, 720,000 people died from HIV/AIDS. By 2016, that number had dropped by nearly 50 percent to 420,000 deaths. As UNAIDS notes, it is extraordinary to see a death rate cut nearly in half in just six years.

Much of this recent success must be attributed to the work of UNAIDS, which is working to make testing and treatment of HIV/AIDS available to everyone. Its programs specifically target young women, pregnant mothers-to-be and males who, because of the stigma around HIV/AIDS, are often the least likely to receive proper treatment.

Multi-Pronged Efforts Reach Most Vulnerable Populations

Efforts aimed at young females including getting comprehensive sex education into all primary and secondary schools in East and Southern Africa, encouraging girls to stay in school (and away from dangerous sex work), and providing easily accessible female and reproductive healthcare.

UNAIDS is also helping to equip maternity clinics with what they need to ensure that all pregnant women will be aware of their HIV status and are able to get the care they need to have a healthy pregnancy.

Along with working to end the stigma around HIV/AIDS and providing accessible places to receive testing and treatment, UNAIDS aims to distribute 30 male condoms to every man living in the region each year. It also offers voluntary male circumcision programs, which can help prevent female to male HIV transmission.

East and Southern Africa may be the region most affected by HIV/AIDS, but UNAIDS is doing tremendous work towards achieving its 90-90-90 goals by 2020 and its goal of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030. Continuing to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS and making testing and treatment increasingly available will ensure that these successes continue.

– Abigail Dunn
Photo: Flickr

What Has the U.N. Done?The United Nations has been working towards world peace, security and good relations in an attempt to solve economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems globally since 1945. Since then, it has aided the world countless times and accomplished immense goals. Specifically, what has the U.N. done? These programs illustrate what United Nations has achieved and its top accomplishments.

UNICEF

UNICEF is an agency that was created by the United Nations that stands for the United Nations International Children’s Fund. UNICEF protects the rights of children throughout the world and works towards increasing their standard of living. UNICEF works in 190 countries.

UNAIDS

The United Nations has been highly successful in the global battle against HIV/AIDS. They raise awareness, funds and create programs for prevention and treatment. The most recent UNAIDS update states that it plans to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

World Food Programme

The United Nations’ World Food Programme is one of the most successful agencies created by the U.N. thus far. The U.N. World Food Programme feeds 104 million people across 80 countries every year, focusing on war zones, natural disaster areas, health emergencies and poor countries.

UNHCR

Another success of the United Nations is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, founded in 1949. The leaders of the UNHCR work with refugees and ensure that governments take responsibility in regards to refugees. UNHCR has received two Nobel Peace Prizes for work done in Europe and worldwide assistance to refugees.

Peacekeeping Missions

The United Nations has 16 peacekeeping missions underway across the world. The purpose is to encourage peaceful relations between countries. The peacekeeping missions have saved many lives and are one of the most successful projects the U.N. has undertaken throughout history.

Among the accomplishments by the United Nations, it is clear how important they are and what a large impact they have made throughout the world. In addition to these five accomplishments are countless others that are just as crucial to the groundbreaking aid they have provided. The question “What has the U.N. done?” starts with these five important things and continues with many other forms of aid.

– Chloe Turner

Photo: Flickr

With a new campaign called My Health, My Right, UNAIDS will celebrate World AIDS Day on December 1, 2017. The campaign aims to bring awareness to the universal right to health, and also to shed light on the hardships people face globally in obtaining these rights.

My Health, My Right is meant to remind people that a human’s right to health is not only about accessing the necessary services and medicines, but also about quality living and working conditions that are sanitary and safe with access to basic needs. When these rights are not being met, preventative measures against disease decrease and illnesses increase, including HIV. This campaign allows for open conversation to begin regarding thoughts and concerns about rights to health, the importance of health equality and justice for people worldwide.

The campaign will occur mostly on twitter, with downloadable posters available to hang throughout communities and informational brochures equipped with messages about the rights to proper health care. The right to health for all people is crucial in the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, as one of the goals includes ending the AIDS epidemic by the year 2030.

As of August 2017, 36.7 million people are living with HIV/AIDS throughout the world. 30 percent of these people don’t know the status of their disease. The majority of those infected with AIDS live in low- and middle-income countries; 25.5 million of these people live in sub-Saharan Africa. Although there has been significant progress in ending the AIDS epidemic, experts say it is not being done fast enough to meet the global targets.

World AIDS Day aims to pay respects to those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. The day was originally founded in 1988, as the first ever global health day. A day to recognize the virus is extremely important for the eradication of the disease, as many of those infected do not know how to protect themselves and the others around them. It also helps demolish the discrimination and stigma associated with people living with the condition. AIDS has not disappeared, and there is a crucial need for funds, resources, increased awareness and improved education regarding the disease.

– Chloe Turner

Photo: Flickr


The Joint Programme Model was created by the U.N. to help in the fight towards ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by the year 2030. To meet this goal, known as the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” it has been noted by the Global Review Panel that the program is in critical need for reform.

The Global Review Panel recently issued a report which identifies key changes that must be made within the Joint Programme Model to help combat the spread of HIV/AIDS around the world. Particularly, it focuses on ways to effectively assist persons who are already infected.

It is the panel’s belief that the creation of the Joint Programme Model has thus far been one of the most instrumental and practical ways to try and eliminate the disease. However, a few suggestions within the report include targeting ways to reduce HIV-related stigmas, reducing the number of deaths caused by HIV/AIDs to fewer than 500,000 and reducing infections caused by HIV to fewer than 500,000.

The report further elaborates on more detailed improvements that are critically necessary for the program’s overall success. Such improvements include making fast-track countries a priority in the allocation of financial resources, as well as maintaining a focus on the mobilization and allocation of funds. By doing so, governmental leaders can ensure that the program remains adequately financed for global ventures.

Additionally, a major concern among members of the panel rests on the need to hold individuals such as cosponsors and the Secretariat accountable for their actions with respect to the overall 2030 plan. Panel members further believe that a transparent public reporting system should be set in motion that “shows the impact of results for people living with and affected by HIV and captures the entirety of Joint Programme financing and performance.”

Awa Coll-Seck, co-chair of the review panel, has expressed her opinion in that all individuals and organizations involved in the 2030 plan to end HIV/AIDs should work together as a sort of think tank to efficiently reach resolutions in the fight towards ending the disease on a global level.

Lael Pierce

Photo: Flickr

 Global Poverty
Most people are aware of global poverty, but often times, the facts don’t sink in until people see the numbers. Here are 15 facts about global poverty.

1. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that from 2014 to 2016, one in nine people suffered from chronic undernourishment. Almost all of them live in developing nations.

2. Between the years 1992 and 2014, the number of undernourished people in developing nations was reduced to 43 percent. However, there is still a long way to go. The percentage of the world’s population that still suffers from hunger is 13.5 percent.

3. Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the least amount of progress made in reducing hunger with one in four people deemed chronically undernourished.

4. Although many Asian nations have made improvements in their poverty levels, little progress to decrease the number of chronically undernourished people has been made.

5. Undernutrition during a child’s developing years causes problems such as stunted height. In 2012, Professor Daniel Schwekendiek from Sungkyunkwan University studied the heights of children in North and South Korea. He found that poor nutrition causes North Korean children to be one to three inches shorter than South Korean children.

6. Another side effect of malnutrition is iron deficiency. Half of all pregnant women in developing countries are estimated to be anemic. About 40 percent of preschool-age children are also estimated to have anemia, which causes problems such as weakness and insomnia.

7. In the United States, a case of upset stomach and diarrhea might cause a sick day. For developing countries, a diarrheal disease could be a death sentence for a child. In 2015, diarrhea accounted for nine percent of deaths among children age five and under. This made it the leading cause of death for children in that age group.

8. Between 2000 and 2015, the number of children under five dying from pneumonia decreased by 47 percent. However, the numbers are not decreasing fast enough. In 2015, the cause of one in six childhood deaths was pneumonia.

9. The Center for Disease Control and Management estimates that 780 million people have no access to clean drinking water. This is about the same number of people who suffer from hunger and malnutrition globally. People living in rural areas are more likely not to have access to an improved water source.

10. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that one in five primary schools girls do not have access to education. Experts say that one reason for this is because menstruating girls often do not have access to toilets in schools. Girls are also more likely to be in charge of fetching water for the family. This makes it difficult for them to stay in school.

11. Contaminated drinking water can also lead to disease such as Guinea Worm Disease (GWD). This is a painful parasitic disease that causes worms to emerge from the body through blisters and sores.

12. Unclean water isn’t only unsafe to drink, it can also be unsafe to wash in. Contaminated water sources used in washing can lead to problems such as trachoma, the world’s leading cause of preventable blindness. Nearly 41 million people suffer from this condition.

13. According to UNAIDS, there were approximately 37 million people living with HIV/AIDS in 2015. The number of children under the age of 15 living with the disease in 2015 was 1.8 million.

14. In 2015, 150,000 children became infected with HIV. The majority of them live in Sub-Saharan Africa and became infected by their mothers through pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.

15. However, people are making progress in addressing the AIDS epidemic. In 2016, there were an estimated 18.2 million HIV-infected people on antiretroviral therapy. UNAIDS hopes to increase that number to 30 million by 2020.

Most people have some general knowledge of the effects of global poverty, but the numbers make the reality more palpable. These facts demonstrate the great amount of progress made and the work that still needs to be done. The Borgen Project is helping decrease global poverty number by educating, advocating and mobilizing people. However, until poverty is completely eliminated, there is still plenty of work to be done.

Mary Grace Costa

Photo: Flickr

Health
The statistics are frightening – an estimated 19 million people across the globe are infected with HIV and do not know it. The lack of knowledge comes with an unnecessarily early death sentence because, when untreated, HIV invariably develops into fatal AIDS. However, those devastating numbers stand to drop considering a recent agreement between representatives of multinational AIDS programs and health organizations. During United Nations AIDS (UNAIDS) talks in New York on  Feb. 9- 10, 2017, leaders of these programs agreed to work together to create a global coalition of community health workers to tackle the HIV epidemic.

Community Health Workers – What Are They?

According to the American Public Health Association (APHA), a community health worker is a trusted public health worker who operates on the front lines and/or has a close understanding of the community served. This relationship allows the worker to facilitate access to services, improve the quality of services and increase health awareness within the narrow scope of their community. Additionally, community health workers can provide outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy. These attributes are especially valuable when battling the global HIV epidemic.

Because formal education, like an M.D or nursing certification, is not a requirement to become a community health worker, their services are extremely cost-effective for people in impoverished areas. Currently, over six million community health workers are on the front lines in global communities. Unfortunately, many community health workers go unpaid; therefore, there can be mixed results when their services are paired with other health systems.

Helping Community Health Workers Help Others

Leadership in the UNAIDS talks recognized these issues and made plans to maximize the potential of community health workers. The participants determined that at least two million additional community health workers need to be deployed to reach the desired 90–90–90 targets. The 90-90-90 target means that 90 percent of people living with HIV know their status, 90 percent of people who know their status are accessing treatment and 90 percent of people on treatment are displaying suppressed viral loads.

The participants also strongly supported the establishment of a new international coalition of community health workers, as early as the summer of 2017. During talks, participants indicated that the formation of a coalition would foster the formation of national associations of community health workers. Ideally, these associations will unify community health workers, advocate for them and increase their overall impact on the HIV epidemic.

Kenly Sikwese, Co-Chair of the African Community Advisory Board, summed up the importance of community health workers in the battle against the HIV epidemic: “When HIV exploded in our countries, it was the community that provided care and treatment […] community health workers need to be integrated as an ongoing part of the health system.”

Gisele Dunn

Photo: Flickr