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.

Key populations

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KEY POPULATIONS
February 15, 2017

In the current dynamic of the HIV/AIDS epidemic at the global level, the communities most exposed to the virus are male and female sex workers, men who have sexual relations with other men and injectable drug users. Because of the discrimination and even criminalization they are subjected to, these persons are, in fact, 10% to 24% more liable to be infected by HIV than the general population. What is at issue here is the limited access to prevention and care when their sexual practices or drug use are condemned by society and even the State. According to the terms of reference of the United Nations these are « key » populations in the epidemic.

Source : Pulsation – June 2016 – Coalition PLUS

The Global Fund and Africagay against AIDS, partners in defence of LGBT rights

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THE GLOBAL FUND AND AFRICAGAY AGAINST AIDS, PARTNERS IN DEFENCE OF LGBT RIGHT*
November 30, 2016

Africagay2The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria provides indispensable support to anti-AIDS associations that work to defend the basic rights of LGBT persons in Africa. These include the 19 members of the Africagay network against AIDS. Members of Coalition PLUS, ANSS (Burundi), ARCAD-SIDA (Mali) and REVS+ (Burkina Faso) are part of this network, which is one of a kind, with technical and financial support from the French associations, AIDES (founding member of Coalition PLUS) and Sidaction.

The second “Africagay Network Day against AIDS” was held last October in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The aim was to fight for equitable access to care in Africa, irrespective of social orientation and gender identity.

« Homosexuals are afraid to leave their homes because there is discrimination in health institutions. Doctors say » ‘I won’t touch a homosexual, my religion forbids it !’ » Homosexuals living with HIV prefer to die at home than to go to those services. » Yves – LGBT militant – Cameroon.

More than 97% of new HIV infections take place in developing countries and only 18% of the world’s States implement HIV-prevention programmes among homosexual and bisexual men, whereas the latter are 5 to 25 times more affected by the virus than the general population. All told, 39 of the 54 countries of the African continent still criminalize homosexuality, condemning gay people to remain in hiding, far from care systems, without treatment or prevention tools.

For more information on the Africagay network against AIDS go to: africagay.org

* Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
Illustration : @ AIDES — Africagay against AIDS
PHOTO : Africagay, an African combat

 

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

It’s confirmed. People living with HIV whose viral load is undetectable cannot transmit the virus to their partners

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IT’S CONFIRMED. PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV WHOSE VIRAL LOAD IS UNDETECTABLE CANNOT TRANSMIT THE VIRUS TO THEIR PARTNERS
September 8, 2016

coupleAn 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

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PrEP “ON DEMAND”: A PROMISING APPROACH
September 8, 2016

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

Coalition PLUS says STOP medical apartheid!

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COALITION PLUS SAYS STOP MEDICAL APARTHEID!
February 16, 2016

Combler ecartBarely 41% of persons living with HIV worldwide receive an antiretroviral treatment today and only 32% of children infected with the virus have access to these vital medicinal drugs. Globally, nine persons out of 10 live in regions of the world where they do not have access to these precious molecules from the time they are diagnosed HIV-positive.

In the poorest countries most patients who are diagnosed are turned away from medical care. There are not enough drugs to go around so they are told to return when they develop AIDS, even if that could be too late. In most of the wealthy countries, people living with HIV have access to the care and treatment they need, irrespective of how far the infection has progressed.

This is a new form of medical apartheid at the global level. These inequalities in access to health are not only revolting. They are also an aberration given the scientific knowledge available today. It should be recalled, here, that someone diagnosed and treated effectively no longer transmits the virus thanks to the preventive effect of the treatment. Without access to treatment, there is no end to AIDS.

Working continuously in the field to correct this injustice, the militants of Coalition PLUS have decided to send a clear message to their governments: No more excuses. Time is running out. Every person living with HIV must be given treatment urgently. Millions of lives depend on it.

Thank you for joining us in this combat. Your donations enable us to act.

Visit coalitionplus.org

Image from the December 1st, 2014 UNAIDS campaign.

Volunteers: Key actors on the community scene

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VOLUNTEERS: KEY ACTORS ON THE COMMUNITY SCENE
February 16, 2016

Volunteering, the cultural cornerstone of the community movement, is essential to the daily functioning of organisations.

Petites mainsAgainst today’s trend of disengagement by governments from major social sectors such as education or health, to mention the most evident ones, the role each individual can play within his/her community appears all the more crucial. Evidently, it is not a matter of substituting collective or individual social initiatives for the functions of government bodies, but volunteers have long understood the role they can play so as to help shape the new face of our society.

The commitment and altruism of these men and women take, in fact, very many forms and the expression « giving of one’s time » seems a gross understatement when placed against the tremendous contribution they make. Volunteers participate in the democratic decision-making process (boards of directors, executive councils, etc.) of organisations and associations. They offer their services to people so as to foster the improvement of their quality of life while maintaining them in their natural environment. They lead support, self-help, artistic-expression, meditation and other groups. They become the faces of causes by sharing their experiences or being their spokespersons. They offer their professional skills (accounting, law, massotherapy, psychology, etc.) for free.

Volunteers invest their time, energy, skills and good humour! Just like you, dear donors, they make a difference each day towards a society with greater solidarity, a more balanced society.

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