World AIDS Day. It is that time of year again when attention focuses on the response to HIV, looking back at progress made and looking forward to the opportunities and challenges ahead. Much of the attention this year is positive, highlighting the unique opportunities before us. The UNAIDS annual report puts forward the lofty, but … Continue reading “World AIDS Day 2011: Looking at a Year of Change”
Elena Thomas Faulkner, JSI, shares how this year’s USCA challenges us to move forward in the fight against HIV “with new hope and energy” and why we must remember that we can’t eliminate HIV without continuing to address the stigma and challenges that have nothing to do with the exciting emerging science of HIV treatment. The focus on the most vulnerable, and the competencies, compassion, and advocacy that have brought us this far in the fight are just as important as we move toward a future in which HIV is defeated.
In my community, youth are still unable to access youth-friendly HIV services. I believe communities like mine can empower HIV-positive youth who choose to be open about their HIV status by providing self-esteem training; supporting them to establish youth-centered positive prevention clubs; educating them on condom use, then making protection supplies available; and finally by linking them to existing youth centers and youth organizations to access reproductive health and HIV services.
There is still something missing in the monitoring of TB/HIV activities that would be worth collecting. TB and both ART and pre-ART patients are currently being assessed in cohorts and their outcome measured according to standardized categories. However, little is known about the outcome of co-infected individuals, since their details get mixed with the overall cohort they belong to.
This poses a serious question for all of us working in HIV/AIDS-related projects across African countries. It is rare to find a clear policy on professional PEP, and even when policy is in place, its implementation is patchy to say the least. Health workers in program-supported facilities get exposed to possible infection, but data are scanty (no directory of professional incidents is being compiled); ARVs may not be easily available for any use other than treating registered patients; and a sense of resignation about the occurrence of these incidents is common among health staff. While the PEP strategy is being gradually expanded for post-rape survivors, it is paramount to provide it for health workers even in remote facilities with no ARV provision.
Bottom line: HIV probably does increase risk but not as much as some of the more traditional modifiable risk factors (like smoking). Hopefully, in the future the START study results whether treatment practices should be changed. .