Looking Back at 2016: Highlights from Our Fight to End AIDS
This week we're reflecting on all the work that we've done to end AIDS in children in 2016, and we're looking forward to continuing the work in 2017. We've selected some of our favorite blogs from the year, so we hope you'll check it out and enjoy. Happy New Year from all of us at EGPAF!
The Jyothi Hospital in Miryagluda, India, provides counseling to pregnant and breastfeeding women through Solidarity and Action Against the HIV Infection in India (SAATHII), a nongovernmental organization supported by EGPAF. One of the counselors, Bommu Anitha, knows firsthand what it is like to receive a diagnosis of HIV. At 19 and HIV-positive, Anitha is the head of her family—after losing her father, mother, and brother to AIDS-related illnesses.
In 2016, EGPAF, working with Microsoft, used Power BI to create the new EGPAF Data Dashboard. This interactive visualization tool summarizes EGPAF’s core work in HIV prevention, care and treatment services. It supports EGPAF’s efforts to use data to evaluate the efficiency, reach and effectiveness of its programs and communicate that information clearly to a variety of technical and consumer audiences.
WATCH TO LEARN MORE:
Standing in front of a large crowd, 17-year-old Phenny narrates her experience of living with HIV. Phenny was born with HIV. She grips the microphone, as she bravely braces herself to address hundreds of congregants who had gathered for the adolescent health symposium in Homa Bay- the first of its kind in Kenya.
EGPAF's Tamar Gabelnick spoke at the President of the General Assembly organized a Civil Society Hearing at UN headquarters in New York in April to make sure that the main outcome document of the HLM this June – the political declaration – paid due attention to the continuing urgency of preventing and treating HIV among children. Tamar spoke during the panel on innovation in tools, approaches and policies on what is new or still needed to increase pediatric testing and treatment.
While the dozen men quietly joke and exchange news, Justice Stuchenda drives a pair of forked sticks into the ground and hangs a sheaf of grain sacks that have been printed with illustrations. He is a male champion, an emanzi, identified by the village health team and trained by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) to lead workshops for men on topics related to family planning and gender roles. To fulfill his duties, he has been given a bicycle, a small stipend, and teaching materials.
Following the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS to measure how far we have come and chart a way forward to the end of AIDS by 2030, Chip Lyons, EGPAF's President & CEO, sat down with Devex to talk about what needs to be done to end the epidemic for good, including:
- Keeping up the pressure to eliminate new HIV infections in children worldwide.
- Helping children with HIV get treatment faster.
- Letting teens tell us how to treat teens.
- Letting data lead the way.
Communities in Turkana, this arid northern county, face many public health challenges as a result of food scarcity, distance from health facilities, and the nomadic culture. Through the Pamoja (which means “together” in Swahili) project, EGPAF has focused on overcoming these challenges by adding HIV services to local health centers, training peer counselors within communities, and initiating community-based testing and counseling by health workers like Esther and Anna.
EGPAF, with funding from ViiV Healthcare, launched a new program in June. A one-year, renewable award from ViiV Healthcare’s Positive Action for Adolescents Fund, will allow EGPAF-Kenya to implement the program in 50 sites in Kenya’s Homa Bay County. The Red Carpet program, targets adolescents with HIV to help curb rising infections and AIDS-related deaths among the group; it is geared towards improving access and uptake of HIV testing and counseling, as well as retention to care and treatment.
WATCH 'GROWING UP WITH HIV':
Turkana, Kenya’s largest county, juts out of Kenya’s barren northwest into Uganda, South Sudan, and Ethiopia. Swaths of the county are regularly beset by drought, flash floods, and bandits. The infrastructure is poor, with the cratered tarmac on some roads dating back 50 years, making travel between settlements long and perilous. The Internet is nearly a myth out here: email messages stall out; phone calls fail to connect. In response to this reality, EGPAF recently turned to social media to strengthen Turkana’s health network. Teams throughout the county now share data and ideas through WhatsApp, a free mobile messaging app.
Margaret, a mother of seven children, is the village’s traditional birth attendant; a position that holds much respect. Until recently, Margaret would rely upon the wisdom of her grandmothers, prescribing herbal supplements and other Turkana remedies, and served as midwife for home births. But Margaret no longer attends home births. Eighteen months ago, she was trained in maternal and child health at the AIC Health Centre, which expanded HIV services through Pamoja, a project directed by EGPAF. Margaret now serves as a lifeline between her village and the health center.
On October 28, 2016, EGPAF celebrated milestones of its project, Pamoja. Pamoja is the Swahili word for “together”. Funded by PEPFAR through the CDC, the six-year Pamoja Project aided in the testing of more than 1.4 million people for HIV and scaled up access to HIV antiretroviral treatment, by starting more than 48,000 patients on HIV medicines.
In partnership with UNITAID, EGPAF is dispersing machines to help with Early Infanct Diagnosis (EID) to a number of pilot sites around Lesotho. The machine tests a baby’s blood for HIV in about 90 minutes as the mother and baby wait—printing the result on a small portable printer. If the baby tests positive, (s)he can be initiated onto treatment right then, before leaving the clinic. This improvement to the EID process is expected to have a huge impact on the number of babies who test for HIV and actually receive their results, as well as the number of HIV-positive babies who are initiated onto treatment before it’s too late.
WATCH 'START, STAY, AIDS FREE':
On World AIDS Day 2016, Chip Lyons, EGPAF's CEO & President, weighed in on what needs to be done to end the epidemic for good. "...although the worst of the epidemic may be past us, AIDS is still a very real threat to the health and wellbeing of millions of Americans. ... we must build on the incredible progress we’ve made over the past several years and commit to achieving what would be one of the greatest public health achievements of our lifetime: ending AIDS in children, while supporting the ultimate goal of wiping out AIDS entirely. But it’s important to remember that we cannot do the latter without achieving the former."
WATCH 'ANNA'S STORY':