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The 3030 ProjectIn 2014, musician Ryan Lewis, a member of the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis hip-hop duo, became the first to donate to the 30/30 Project, the project that he helped his mother, Julie, kickstart. As a thirty-year survivor of HIV, Julie Lewis designed the project with the goal of building thirty healthcare facilities worldwide. It is virtually impossible for people living in poverty to receive treatments, considering “Just one month’s supply of a typical antiretroviral drug costs more than the annual income of most Malawians.” But, these new facilities will give people access to treatments for life-threatening diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

The Lewis family saw the injustice and pledged to make a positive change. After all, their motto for the project states, “Healthcare is a human right.”

Lewis and his musical partner, Macklemore, started an IndieGoGo campaign to raise $100,000. This went towards the first phase of the project, which is building a non-profit health center in Neno District, Malawi. The campaign exceeded its goal, raising over $150,000. So, the excess will be used for the next phase, which is a non-profit clinic in Kangundo, Kenya.

Dambe Health Center

Just like they promised, the 30/30 Project completed construction of the Dambe Health Center in the Neno District of Malawi in August 2015.

Partners in Health opened the clinic in March 2016. “This health center serves a community of 30,000 people…by addressing the need for free, basic primary care and lowering the barrier of access.” Since its launch four-and-a-half years ago, sixteen health care centers have been built. Six are currently under construction and eight are in the fundraising stage.

No Mom Left Behind

In addition to their main goal, the 30/30 Project launched its “No Mom Left Behind” campaign. The funds raised, build and maintain maternity wards in impoverished regions. Since 2017, they were able to build a new maternity ward and renovate a clinic in Togo, West Africa. For the 2019 fundraising year, donations will be used to construct a maternity ward in Kenya. It will offer HIV counseling, testing and medication, immunizations and family planning. The need for these services is high, as one in forty-two women die during childbirth. Sixty percent of women deliver their child at home, far from the helping hands of medical professionals. Construction on a nursing school in Uganda is already underway, with the hopes of training students to properly handle patients and any problems that may arise during childbirth.

As a family who has experienced the heartache associated with a loved one’s positive HIV diagnosis, the Lewises know how important it is to receive proper treatment. This is especially true for expectant mothers, who have a twenty-five percent chance of transmitting the disease to their baby. However, treatments could reduce that likelihood to less than two percent.

Ryan Lewis has made a splash in the music scene. Over the last five years, he has also made major strides in the world of philanthropy. Due to his generosity and perseverance, thousands of people in Africa and India are receiving life-saving treatments that they were previously unable to afford. With continued support, the 30/30 Project will help provide healthcare to many other underserved communities.

– Sareen Mekhitarian
Photo: Flickr

HIV Treatment
In September of 2017, it was announced at the seventy-second U.N. General Assembly that the HIV treatment regimen TLD (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, lamivudine and dolutegravir) has been made more accessible to low and middle income countries. This has been accomplished with a price agreement established through the partnership of various countries and global aid programs.

Some of the groups that collaborated on the new price agreement include UNAIDS, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), PEPFAR, USAID, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the governments of South Africa and Kenya. Teams in many countries have begun developing plans to transition TLD into use by the end of 2019. Over 50 low or middle income countries have already introduced or are planning to introduce TLD as the favored first-line treatment for HIV.

Improvements to TLD

TLD medication is already considered a preferred method of HIV treatment in the United States. However, with the use of a generic treatment and a pricing agreement, TLD is now expected to cost health programs in low to middle income countries covered by the agreement only $75 per person per year once the treatment has been fully transitioned into use.

The newly released TLD is a generic treatment consisting of a single pill taken once a day containing a dolutegravir base. Studies have shown that the TLD regimen has fewer side effects on the patient and also has less vulnerability to the development of drug resistance that would render it ineffective. This helps because it means that fewer people would have to start new levels of treatment. TLD has also been shown to provide a more rapid repression of viral load.

Effects of New HIV Treatment

Three countries that began using the TLD treatment by the end of 2017 include Brazil, Botswana and Kenya. Within three months of treatment, studies show that 81 percent of patients using TLD in Brazil had an undetectable viral load, as compared to another HIV treatment regimen with an EFV (efavirenz) base, which had 61 percent presenting with an undetectable viral load after three months of treatment. Botswana and Kenya have shown similar success, with 90 percent of those using the treatment reaching full viral suppression in 2018.

In 2016, only 53 percent of people infected with the HIV virus were receiving treatment. Under the licensing agreement that sets a maximum price on the dolutegravir-based medication, 92 low to middle income countries will be able to provide the treatment to their citizens. These countries represent 90 percent of the people living with HIV in low to middle income countries. The TLD pricing agreement will not only be able to reduce the cost of treatment for the people in these countries but will increase availability so that more people can be treated.

A Brighter, Healthier Future

The launch of this new TLD treatment is another step forward in the treatment of people suffering globally from HIV and AIDS. People who did not originally have access to the dolutegravir treatment due to cost and availability will now be able to use this treatment. TLD provides a more reliable treatment regimen that will improve many people’s lives and ultimately bring the world a little further in the fight against HIV.

– Lindabeth Doby
Photo: Flickr