Much still needs to be done to match our ambitions!

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MUCH STILL NEEDS TO BE DONE TO MATCH OUR AMBITIONS!
November 26, 2015

As we highlight the 28th World AIDS Day, the international community continues to work towards achieving the aim of UNAIDS’ strategy, « Objective zero: Zero new HIV infections, Zero discrimination, Zero AIDS-related deaths”. As 2016 dawns, the portrait of the battle against AIDS/HIV is full of hope.

We are seeing a net decline of the epidemic: the number of new cases has been falling for about 15 years and, over the past 10 years, so has the number of AIDS-related deaths.

These results are attributable to a large extent on improved access to treatment. Additionally, anti-retroviral therapy, which today has fewer side effects, is now synonymous with better health and a closer-to-normal life expectancy for people living with HIV. Moreover, when used correctly, treatment reduces the viral load until it becomes undetectable, which can reduce the risk of HIV transmission by 90%. Thus, the progress registered in treatment and prevention, as well as in human rights, opens up real prospects.

However, ending the epidemic by 2030 , as per the objectives of UNAIDS, will still require a great deal of work, mainly with regard to making testing more accessible, enabling the 22 million untested persons living with HIV to be treated, and sustaining and intensifying prevention efforts. This is because a number of challenges still need to be overcome. These include the cost of medicines, which is still too high, taboos linked to HIV and the resulting stigmatisation and discrimination, socio-economic inequalities, the criminalization of homosexuality, which persist in certain countries, and the criminalization of people living with HIV.

Burundi: Thank you for your solidarity!

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BURUNDI: THANK YOU FOR YOUR SOLIDARITY!
August 19, 2015

TURIHO_1 (2)While Burundi sinks further into a deep political crisis, punctuated by violence that has caused about a hundred deaths so far and forced some 170,000 Burundians to flee their country, the members of l’Association nationale de soutien aux séropositifs et malades du sida (ANSS – National Association for Support to HIV-positive and AIDS patients) refuse to abandon their beneficiaries, taking daily risks to go out and do their work and carry out their mission. Despite that, many patients are obliged to remain in their homes and no longer go to their medical appointments. This endangers their lives.

The urgency of the situation has led FQSIDA and its partner, Coalition Plus, to mobilize, and launch an exceptional appeal for donations for this historic association which currently provides medical and psycho-social support for more than 5,000 HIV-positive adults and children throughout the country. This upsurge of solidarity is beginning to bear fruit since the generosity of our donors has already enabled us to collect close to CAN$ 15,000.

Burundi 1This money will enable the ANSS to come to the assistance of AIDS orphans whom it lodges, feeds, and provides with education and medical care. These orphans – most of whom have found it extremely difficult to obtain treatment – are caught up in deadly clashes of which they understand absolutely nothing.

HIV in Burundi:
This country of 10 million inhabitants is in the throes of a generalised epidemic: 1.2 % of its people are HIV-positive; 50% are less than 25 years old. ANSS alone provides medical care and access to treatment to more than 5,000 persons.

Photos: © Coalition PLUS

ACS/AMO Congo : Access to treatment remains a priority

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ACS/AMO CONGO:
ACCESS TO TREATMENT REMAINS A PRIORITY

May 13th, 2015

Photo: © Coalition PLUS Fqsida board member Hélène Legaré with the staff of ACS/AMO Congo’s “BON BERGER “ integrated polyclinic in Kinshasa (DRC), which provides some 2,300 persons living with HIV with anti-retroviral treatment, and medical and psycho-social care.

Photo: © Coalition PLUS
Fqsida board member Hélène Legaré with the staff of ACS/AMO Congo’s “BON BERGER “ integrated polyclinic in Kinshasa (DRC), which provides some 2,300 persons living with HIV with anti-retroviral treatment, and medical and psycho-social care.

The number of HIV-positive persons currently living in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is estimated at one million. Fewer than 100,000 of them receive anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment to fight the infection. This is a human, economic and health catastrophe when one knows that proper treatment enables a person to achieve quality of life and to be healthy enough to work on a daily basis and take care of his or her family, while considerably reducing the risk of transmission of the virus during sexual contact or from mother to child.
Historically, most people who are on ARVs in the DRC received them as a result of the mobilisation of community structures, with the ACS/AMO Congo foremost among them. Coalition PLUS has understood this and has been supporting this association since 2009 by financing the missions of independent auditors tasked with certifying it. Such a level of financial certification, very rare internationally, not only provides our organisation and its donors with a guarantee that the funds it manages are used rigorously, it also enables the member associations of Coalition PLUS to earn credibility with international donors in the fight against the epidemic.

Food insecurity and HIV/AIDS closely linked

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FOOD INSECURITY AND HIV/AIDS CLOSELY LINKED
February 18th, 2015

In a Quebec study* based on a sample of 319 people living with HIV, 58% of respondents reported living with food insecurity. That’s seven times higher than the provincial rate.

Whether it’s due to financial difficulty, physical limitations, or exclusion resulting from stigmatization, households affected by HIV can have a hard time maintaining a healthy, balanced diet (due to access to food, quality and diversity of food, etc.).

Food security on its own affects both physical and mental health, and can have a negative impact on quality of life. In addition, according to some data, by aggravating situations of vulnerability and inequality, a lack of food security can play a role in increasing the risk of HIV transmission, limit access to treatment and care, and is also associated with negative health outcomes for individuals on antiretroviral therapy.

While the negative relationship between food insecurity and HIV is easy to spot, it remains difficult to say whether food insecurity is a cause or effect of HIV.

* “Impact of Food Security on Health Outcomes in People Living with HIV/AIDS Across Canada” Community research carried out in 2013 in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec

Source (French only): jesuisseropo.org

 

March 8: Celebrating women!

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MARCH 8: CELEBRATING WOMEN!
February 18th, 2015

Every year on March 8, we celebrate International Women’s Day. It’s a date which is symbolic of the fight for gender equality, and an occasion to recognize all those men and women who have contributed to the advancement of women’s rights. It’s also a time, even in 2015, to call for change.

Gender inequality and HIV/AIDS

Throughout the world, nearly the same number of women as men are afflicted with HIV. But behind these statistics hide a number of differences. Some are biological, making women more susceptible to contracting HIV than men. For the most part though, differences stem from gender-based socio-economic inequality. Certain societal norms like polygamy, lack of access to education and employment, and financial dependence converge to ensure that women are significantly more vulnerable to HIV than men.

A better understanding of how social factors play into the epidemic – for women and men – has made it clear that we need to attack these root causes of the disease. Education, access to employment, income level, access to healthcare and social services, etc. are all key issues to be addressed in the response to HIV. The same holds true for improving women’s rights around the world, from combating sexual violence, to fighting the imbalance of power in male/female relationships.

 

MALI: Gundo-So – The circle of trust

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– MALI –
GUNDO-SO – THE CIRCLE OF TRUST
February 18th, 2015

© Harandane DICKO for the Fondation de France

Malian women living with HIV are at particular risk of stigmatization, divorce, repudiation, having their children taken from them, or simply being abandoned. This is because they are often completely dependent on their husbands, both economically and socially. In this context, the decision of whether or not to disclose their HIV positive status can be a dangerous one which can carry serious consequences. The circle of trust, or Gundo-So in Bambara, is a community program created specifically for these women, to give them the tools to make smart, well-thought-out decisions on the subject.

The program involves an assessment interview, as well as ten weekly meetings and an optional group session. Many of the tools used are distinctly born of Malian culture, from stones to estimate the weight of the secret, to wooden sticks to measure the pros and cons of disclosure, etc. Testimonials from women who’ve been through the program make it clear: the impact has been very positive. The program was launched in 2010 by ARCAD-SIDA (the Malian member of Coalition PLUS), and has been implemented in six centres in Bamako, and one in the Kayes region, in the west of the country.

Learn more about Gundo-So

 

 

The fight against HIV/AIDS and LGBT* rights in Africa

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AFRICA
THE FIGHT AGAINST HIV/AIDS AND LGBT* RIGHTS
November 25t, 2014

Africagay2As in Uganda, where President Museveni recently signed an act into law that considerably worsens the repression of homosexuality, 40% of UN member states – that’s 39 African countries out of 54 – still criminalize sexual relations between people of the same sex. We can no longer ignore the disastrous public health ramifications that stem from criminalization. Criminalization is also a major obstacle in the fight against HIV/AIDS, since it pushes people into hiding, and distances them from prevention and care services.

African community organizations ANSS and REVS+, members of Coalition PLUS, have long been working with and for LGBT communities in Burundi and Burkina Faso in the areas of prevention, human rights, and health issues. Both organizations are also members of Africagay against AIDS, a network of HIV/AIDS and LGBT associations from eight African countries, which receives technical and financial support from AIDES (a founding member of Coalition PLUS) and Sidaction. The network works to ensure that Africa’s LGBT communities have access to prevention and care, on the principle that the discrimination these people are subjected to is an affront to human rights, and serves to feed the epidemic.

To learn more about Africagay against AIDS, visit africagay.org

* Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender
Illustration: @ AIDES — Africagay against AIDS

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.

From fiction to reality

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FROM FICTION TO REALITY
September 15th, 2014

Did this projected news story from 2030 sound appealing? After fighting HIV for 50 years, this would be a perfect ending to one of the most murderous epidemics in history.

But did you know that this fictional story might not be so far-fetched? Or at least, that’s the hope of UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé.

WITHIN JUST 15 YEARS, WE COULD LIVE IN A WORLD WITHOUT HIV.
WITH YOU AT OUR SIDE, WE CAN TURN HOPE INTO REALITY!
hope

2030: A world without HIV

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2030: A world without HIV

HIV/AIDS: FINALLY, THE EPIDEMIC HAS BEEN ERADICATED!
September 15th, 2014

aidsAs 2030 draws to a close, the latest World Health Organization (WHO) statistics on HIV/AIDS speak for themselves; there have been no new transmissions in the past 24 months!

This is an unprecedented triumph for the entire international community. Prevention, testing, and treatment objectives were all reached thanks to an impressive feat of mobilization by countless players in the fight against HIV.

The most recent UNAIDS report gives particular praise to the synergy between scientific and medical advances, and those in human rights, throughout all five decades of the pandemic.

Additionally, over the past 15 years in particular, the commitment and support of policy-makers worldwide have ensured that the fight against HIV had every necessary resource.

It was a sizeable challenge: ensuring that the people at the highest risk of transmission would benefit from crucial healthcare services. To achieve this,concerted action was needed on all fronts: information and awareness campaigns, targeted prevention campaigns, and increased access to testing, care, and treatment. Equally important was the fight for human rights and against discrimination, criminalization, etc.

None of this would have been possible without the incredible support of donors around the world. Through their contributions to various foundations, they helped fund numerous advances in the fight against HIV, both scientifically and by directly supporting the communities most affected by the pandemic.

Although the infection still has no cure, experts now agree that we can safely refer to the HIV/AIDS epidemic as a thing of the past.