Letter to the Editor: Global ties needed in HIV and family planning services

Financial Times | July 17, 2012

In this Letter to the Editor, EGPAF President and CEO Chip Lyons and Population Action International President and CEO Suzanne Ehlers write on the need to link treatment strategies for HIV/AIDS to family planning services through more effective global health discussions.

 

Global ties needed in HIV and family planning services

From Mr Charles Lyons and Ms Suzanne Ehlers.

Sir, Sarah Murray correctly identifies the challenges and benefits to better integrating family planning and HIV-related services (“HIV-Aids: Links with family planning bring benefits,” Special Report, July 9).

By bridging the artificial divide between HIV and family planning, we have an opportunity to accelerate progress on both fronts and deliver life-saving services together.

Offering family planning options to a woman who is HIV-positive helps her to avoid unintended pregnancies, postpone pregnancy due to HIV-related illness, or access services that will allow her to give birth to an HIV-negative child.

Yet these services are often difficult for women to access in an integrated way. For example, in some rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa, women must leave home before dawn to travel several hours to queue for HIV medication at health centres, only to be faced with an additional long queue if they also need family planning services.

One step towards overcoming siloed delivery of these services would be to better co-ordinate broader global health planning discussions.

Two major global health conferences – last week’s London Summit on Family Planning and the upcoming International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC – are taking place two weeks apart on two different continents.

Both of these conferences are important in their own right. But to better address the challenges identified by Ms Murray, we urge governments and international health organisations also to look for opportunities to link these discussions.

Charles Lyons, President and Chief Executive, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
Suzanne Ehlers, President and Chief Executive, Population Action International

Washington, D.C., US