ABC OF HIV : Primary infection

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ABC OF HIVPrimary infection
May 18, 2017

This is the period immediately after the virus enters the body. At this stage, the virus multiplies quickly and transmission risks are highest.

This first phase can come with flu-like symptoms such as fever, throat pain, muscular pain, fatigue, swollen lymph-nodes and skin eruptions.

These symptoms, which disappear after a few weeks, are not present in all infected persons. Sometimes the primary infection stage goes by unnoticed. It is during this period that the immune system produces antibodies to defend itself against the virus.

Source : L’essentiel du VIH/sida, Portail VIH/sida du Québec, Benoît Lemire

REVS+ Burkina Faso – The challenge of caring for vulnerable communities

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REVS+ BURKINA FASO – THE CHALLENGE OF CARING FOR VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES
February 15, 2017

In December last, REVS+ – a member of Coalition PLUS in Burkina Faso – organized a major workshop in Ouagadougou involving many non-governmental organizations active in the fight against HIV/Aids or in the area of human rights, along with many of some of the country’s decision-makers and opinion leaders. The objective of the encounter was to tackle the difficulties linked to providing care for the most vulnerable groups affected by the epidemic in Burkina Faso, and to ensure that these populations are less stigmatized and, at the same time, that greater consideration is given to their fundamental rights and health care needs.

Martine Somda – President of REVS+ and Administrator of Coalition PLUS
Credit : © Coalition PLUS

For Martine Somda, President of REVS+ and Administrator of Coalition PLUS, this workshop was « a victory in that it convinced the decision-makers and opinion leaders present to confront the issues of access to prevention services, care and HIV treatment for all citizens, regardless of gender, religion or sexual orientation and gender identity, with serenity, determination and pragmatism ».

Progress has certainly been registered in Burkina Faso in the fight against AIDS, with the HIV-prevalence rate dropping from over 7% in 1997 to 0.8% today, according to UNAIDS. However, important challenges remain with regard to providing care for the estimated 95,000 persons living with HIV in the country, especially in the most socially or economically vulnerable communities.

To sustain the progress made in the years-long fight against AIDS, continuous outreach to prisoners, children, handicapped persons, sex workers, men who have sex with other men and injectable drug users is an imperative. Unfortunately, the social environment in Burkina Faso is still hostile or indifferent to these communities.

Together, let’s build a world without AIDS or HIV

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aidsOn the occasion of World AIDS Day 2016, on the 1st of December, COCQ-SIDA* is launching a real rallying message to put an end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Stressing the importance of collective work, collaboration and solidarity, this key message invites each and every one to learn about the reality of HIV and ways to protect themselves, and to contribute to the fight against the epidemic through donations, volunteering and pressure on public institutions and by fighting against discrimination and stigmatization.

We know now that it is possible to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, but there is a long way to go to attain the objective set by UNAIDS for 2030, including in Quebec: invest in prevention, improve access to testing and care, adequately finance grassroot community work, support specialized lodging services etc.

Fqsida has taken ownership of this message so that it can be relayed on a large scale all over Quebec. That is why we are inviting each and every one of you to disseminate it and share it massively on social media in a campaign also aimed at challenging government bodies and elected officials so as to intensify efforts and increase investments.

* Coalition of community organizations from Quebec in the fight against AIDS

Our favourite season

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OUR FAVOURITE SEASON
September 8, 2016

Community mobilization against HIV knows no summer break! The teams deployed all their optimism and high spirits to prepare the summer activities, often reinforced by volunteers. Here is a small selection.

Journées communautaires Fierté 2016

The ACCM’s booth at Montreal 2016 Gay Pride

Awareness-building and information during the community day at Fierté Montreal 2016, a date not to be forgotten on the agenda of the fight against HIV. Even the downpours were powerless to dampen the enthusiasm of the men and women who ventured out to meet the public. ACCM alone distributed 10 000 condoms there!

We also need to highlight the formidable energy at the booth of the Maison Plein Cœur and its dynamic participation this summer in  various fund-raising activities, each more enjoyable than the other.

As it does every year, Gap-Vies conducted many outreach activities aimed at raising awareness and prevention during popular events in and around Montréal, such as Carifesta, les Week-ends du Monde, and sporting competitions.

For MIELS-Québec, a major activity was testing evenings in meeting places such as saunas and night spots, where anonymous, free and confidential testing was provided by a nurse and a social assistant, both of whom were always on hand to respond to questions.

Many weeks of reflection and work by ACCM culminated this summer in the launch of its new website and visual identity, a very beautiful accomplishment of which the ACCM team can be proud!

Sexe-au-menuSome organizations also relayed the COCQ-SIDA campaign, “Sexe au menu, combine tes ingrédients” (Sex on the menu, combine your ingredients). Here, men who are gay, bisexual, transsexual or who, here and there, like to have sex with other men are invited to rediscover six strategies for protecting themselves from the risk of HIV transmission: pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), post-exposure prophylaxis (PPE), testing, condom-use, considering your viral load and negotiated safety – a campaign with an off-beat humour.

… And the new season promises to be just as active!

Objective 90-90-90: An ambitious target

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OBJECTIVE 90-90-90: AN AMBITIOUS TARGET
September 8, 2016

At the Durban conference, many actors in the fight against HIV/Aids denounced an enormous gap between the promises to end Aids and the reality on the ground, with funding insufficient and health systems on the brink of implosion.

Funding continues to be the main challenge facing the attainment of the 90-90-90 objective by the year 2020: 90% of persons with HIV knowing their status; 90% of persons tested receiving lasting antiretroviral treatment; 90% of persons under treatment having an undetectable viral load.

Today, 51% of persons with HIV do not know that they have the virus. Three out of four have no access to treatment, and the rate is 9 out of 10 among children. We have all the tools we need to close the gap, but the challenge continues to be huge because of the cost of medication, infrastructure costs, and the human and medical resources needed. Without real political will, we will not be able to attain the 90-90-90 target.

HIV: The tools are there, the funding needs to follow

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HIV: THE TOOLS ARE THERE, THE FUNDING NEEDS TO FOLLOW
September 8, 2016

Summer is coming to an end. A beautiful sun-filled summer that we hope you’ve been able to enjoy to the fullest. To mark the return to school and work, we offer you an opportunity to catch up on the latest on HIV for the summer season, with a selection of news that caught our attention, mainly from the 21st International Conference on HIV/AIDS, held in Durban, South Africa, from the 18th to the 23rd of July 2016.

coupleIt’s confirmed. People living with HIV whose viral load is undetectable cannot transmit the virus to their partners.
An american study published on the 12th of July in the Journal of the American Medical Association monitored 1,166 serodiscordant couples, a third of them same sex, for 16 months and found that there was no HIV transmission between partners when the viral load of the HIV-positive partner could not be detected. The medical treatment used to reduce the viral load can thus, without the shadow of a doubt, also be considered a very effective prevention method since it blocks the transmission of the virus. The relevance of this approach, known as Treatment as Prevention (TasP), has thus been confirmed once again, since it is a significant contributor to the decline of the epidemic.

PrEP “on demand”: A promising approach
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) continues to demonstrate its effectiveness and each new study shows that it considerably reduces the risk of HIV transmission. The Truvada medication, which prevents the virus from multiplying, was, moreover, approved by Health Canada as a preventive treatment. A Canadian study confirmed that, when taken continuously, it has a 98% rate of success in preventing infection of persons newly exposed to the risk of transmission.

PrEP “on demand”, a one-off prophylactic treatment prescribed during bouts of high risk of exposure to transmission, occupied a place of prominence in the debates at the Durban conference. A first study had established its effectiveness at 86%. A new French study, conducted from November 2014 to 2016 with 362 individuals, yielded results that were even more spectacular. Only one person – who, in fact, had interrupted the PrEP – was infected.

When well managed, PrEP “on demand” represents a promising approach for populations that are highly vulnerable to the risk of HIV transmission, have very high prevalence rates, and among whom the transmission chain seems difficult to break. Not only does it have fewer secondary effects than the continuous treatment formula, but it, moreover, leads to substantial savings which could encourage its development among the biggest pools of high-risk populations.

Objective 90-90-90: An ambitious target
At the Durban conference, many actors in the fight against HIV/Aids denounced an enormous gap between the promises to end Aids and the reality on the ground, with funding insufficient and health systems on the brink of implosion.

Funding continues to be the main challenge facing the attainment of the 90-90-90 objective by the year 2020: 90% of persons with HIV knowing their status; 90% of persons tested receiving lasting antiretroviral treatment; 90% of persons under treatment having an undetectable viral load.

Today, 51% of persons with HIV do not know that they have the virus. Three out of four have no access to treatment, and the rate is 9 out of 10 among children. We have all the tools we need to close the gap, but the challenge continues to be huge because of the cost of medication, infrastructure costs, and the human and medical resources needed. Without real political will, we will not be able to attain the 90-90-90 target.

Sources: La Presse, Ici Radio-Canada, Seronet

Morocco – Testing: the first step towards ending HIV/AIDS

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ALCS IN MOROCCO – TESTING: THE FIRST STEP TOWARDS ENDING HIV/AIDS
November 26, 2015

depistage

© Coalition PLUS (Daniel Hérard)

Ahead of World Aids Day on 1 December, the ALCS, a Moroccan member of Coalition PLUS, is organising its traditional National Testing Days in November in partnership with Morocco’s Ministry of Health. Objective: Facilitate access to free, anonymous HIV testing for the people of Morocco, in keeping with the objectives of the national strategic plan for the fight against AIDS.

During the previous edition of this event, 38,500 tests were administered in the 28 centres and 5 mobile units (buses) run by the ALCS in 40 towns and villages of the Kingdom. A formidable result made possible by the commitment of 50 volunteer doctors throughout the four-week-long operation.

According to UNAIDS estimates, there are more than 30 000 persons living with HIV in Morocco, and 80% of them are unaware that they are infected since they have not been tested. Moreover, 60% of persons who have been diagnosed as HIV-positive only gain access to medical care at a late stage of infection. Yet, many studies have shown that someone who has been diagnosed early and provided with treatment from an early stage no longer transmits the virus thanks to the protective effects of the treatment. Testing, therefore, is definitely the first step towards ending the epidemic.

Visit alcs.ma

Combined prevention

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The ABC

COMBINED PREVENTION
Auguste 19, 2015

HIV prevention strategies can take on many forms today, the main ones being behavioural, structural and biomedical.

Behavioural prevention strategies are aimed at replacing risky individual and collective behaviours that favour the transmission of the virus with safer behaviours, such as wearing condoms and getting tested for HIV.

Structural strategies focus more widely on social, economic, legal, cultural and educational factors liable to increase the vulnerability of persons and groups most exposed to the epidemic and to impede behavioural change.

Biomedical strategies include pre-exposure treatment and triple-drug therapy.

Combined prevention aims at a synergy between all these strategies. It no longer opposes behavioural prevention on one hand and biomedical prevention on the other. It notably now tends to bring prevention, screening and treatment together in a global approach.

While the AIDS epidemic has experienced a net reduction over the past few years, efforts to prevent HIV transmission have not made it possible to avoid new infections, with very different levels of incidence in certain countries or regions, within certain population groups, in certain areas with generalised epidemics and in countries where the epidemic is most concentrated.

The combined prevention strategy is therefore aimed at improving the effectiveness of the prevention and reduction of HIV transmission risks for the benefit of individuals and the community.

Source: sidaweb.com

Ending HIV: The strategy

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ENDING HIV: THE STRATEGY
September 15th, 2014

victoireOf the 35 million people living with HIV today, an estimated 19 million don’t know that they are HIV-positive.

Upon the publication of the UNAIDS Gap Report on July 16, Michel Sidibé declared that, “if we accelerate all HIV scale-up by 2020, we will be on track to end the epidemic by 2030.”

On the margins of the 20th International AIDS Conference, he appealed to the international community to set new treatment goals for 2020:

  • 90% of all people living with HIV should know their HIV status
  • 90% of all people diagnosed with HIV should be receiving HIV treatments 
  • 90% of all people being treated for HIV should achieve lasting viral suppression 

Experts have clearly identified the priorities: close the gap between the number of people who know their HIV status and those who don’t, and between the number of people who receive HIV services and those who don’t.

While applauding the considerable efforts being made to improve access to treatment, the Gap Report also stresses the critical importance of the commitment of the international community, and that of the countries most affected by HIV/AIDS.
It puts particular emphasis on the need to address multiple complex micro-epidemics with specific, tailored solutions, so that people can be reached faster and with better services.

The report also specifies that equal access to quality HIV services will be imperative, both for human rights and public health reasons.

For this to be possible, we must first remedy the lack of data on the people most affected by HIV, combat stigmatization, discrimination, repressive laws, and any obstacles to collective mobilization, and increase funding.
It is estimated that an annual amount of $22-24 billion would be needed to completely fund an effective anti-HIV program.

By putting an end to the epidemic by 2030, we would avoid 18 million new HIV infections, and 11.2 million AIDS-related deaths.