September 11, 2014
A new medical study out of South Africa has found that South Africans with HIV can live as long as HIV patients in the US – provided they begin ARV therapy early enough. From VOA:
“What we found is that, although in South Africa, mortality is initially higher than it is in Europe and North America as a result of people starting treatment with more advanced disease, once people have stabilized on treatment, typically by two years, the mortality in South Africa has fallen to levels that are at least comparable to North America,” said Dr. Andrew Boulle, who is with the University of Cape Town’s School of Public Health and Family Medicine.
For four years, the researchers followed the welfare more than 30,000 HIV-positive adult patients in South Africa, comparing them to nearly 37,000 patients in North America and Europe.
At first, the news was not encouraging. Because of many factors – including stigma and lack of resources – South African patients fared worse in the first year of treatment. That is because many had entered treatment at a later stage than their Western counterparts. But after two years, the South Africans still on treatment rallied.
One reason, Boulle says, may be the social aspect of the disease. In Southern Africa, the disease covers a wide segment of the population – for example, South Africa’s government estimates that nearly 16 percent of working-age people are infected.
In developed nations, it still disproportionately affects already marginalized groups, like people who inject drugs – a group that is already less likely to get proper medical care and prone to other ailments, which puts them at a disadvantage.
Spotlight on PSI
The first post in a special series on the global health workforce, in partnership with the Frontline Health Workers Coalition, on the PSI blog looks at how traveling health workers provide a lifeline for HIV-positive mothers. An excerpt:
Nagaratha and Marjula are health counselors for Solidarity and Action Against the HIV Infection in India (SAATHII), a local organization and partner of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF). SAATHII focuses on ensuring maternal and child health for families affected by HIV.
Fortunately, counselors with SAATHII are able to provide Rathna with the information, antiretroviral medication, and emotional support that she needs.
If an expectant mother living with HIV adheres to treatment, it is unlikely that she will transmit the virus to her child during pregnancy or childbirth. And if she remains on treatment after the baby is born, she can safely breastfeed.
Every week, Nagaratha and Marjula visit Rathna, bringing her antiretroviral medication and checking on her well-being. The counselors also provide a travel stipend for Rathna so that she can visit a local hospital for follow-up testing and treatment.
The young mother doesn’t yet know for certain that her son is HIV-free—but so far he has tested negative, so she is hopeful.
Nagaratha and Marjula don’t just provide medications; they also work to provide the social support Rathna needs to ensure she takes her medication and maintains her hospital visits despite stigma and other social challenges she faces because she is living with HIV.
Global Health and Development Beat
Indonesia, one of only three countries in the Asia-Pacific region that is seeing a trend of increased HIV infections, must plug a $30 million funding gap in its fight against HIV, a U.N. health official said.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says it is committing $50 million to help combat the growing Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Health workers in Liberia reported being overwhelmed by new Ebola cases on Wednesday, as the epidemic was blamed for shattering economic growth in neighboring Sierra Leone.
With the recent signing into law of the HIV Prevention and Control Act by President Museveni, Uganda is looking more now like a model of how not to fight HIV, says Human Rights Watch.
ICRC warns hundreds of thousands of people in South Sudan are facing starvation and are in urgent need of international assistance to survive.
About 135 million young children in East Asia and the Pacific have not been registered with any government agency. That leaves them unable to claim national identities. Such identification is often a requirement for rights and government services.
Haiti has received a large shipment of treatment packets to help it deal with an outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus known as chikungunya amid a rainy season expected to result in a surge of new cases in the country, officials said.
As the Ebola fight in Liberia intensifies, ExxonMobil has presented a check for US$150,000 grant to the Liberia National Red Cross Society to enhance the work of the Red Cross.
Buzzing in the Blogs
Dr. Benjamin Ryan Phelps and Joella Adams describe the unique opportunity provided by investing in the prevention of transmission of HIV from mothers to children in the USAID Impact blog. An excerpt:
There is no clearer example than pediatric HIV. A single generation has seen the rise of a devastating epidemic and, though there have been breakthroughs in the fight against the virus, 3.2 million children currently live with the virus and an estimated 700 children are infected daily. The recent, sudden viral rebound in the “Mississippi baby,” the first child believed to be functionally cured, was the latest punch to the gut in the long, drawn out brawl to protect children from the virus. In low-resourced regions, children living with HIV are often among the last to be tested and treated. Initiating children on treatment early, which allowed the Mississippi baby to remain virally suppressed for years, is exceptionally rare.
Now for some good news. Earlier this month, as part of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR),in partnership with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), launched Accelerating Children’s HIV/AIDS Treatment (ACT). ACT is an ambitious $200 million initiative to double the total number of children receiving life-saving antiretroviral therapy (ART) across 10 priority African countries over the next two years. This investment will enable 300,000 more children living with HIV to receive life-saving ART.
At the onset of the HIV epidemic in the early 1980′s, an HIV diagnosis was equivalent to a death sentence. Failing to treat a child remains just that, as half die by 2 years of age. Up to three people die of AIDS every minute and an estimated 190,000 children died of AIDS in 2013 alone.
9:00 AM – Careers in Development featuring Paul Gunette: Agribusiness, Food Security and Global Development – CSIS
12:15 PM – Building Resilience in the Face of Climate Change and Weather Shocks – IFRI
9:30 AM – More Power to Her: How Empowering Girls Can Help End Child Marriage – ICRW
By Mark Leon Goldberg and Tom Murphy
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