PRESS RELEASE: UNAIDS

The world has exceeded the AIDS targets of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6 and is on track to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The AIDS targets of MDG 6—halting and reversing the spread of HIV—have been achieved and exceeded, according to a new report released today by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). New HIV infections have fallen by 35% and AIDS-related deaths by 41%. The global response to HIV has averted 30 million new HIV infections and nearly 8 million (7.8 million) AIDS-related deaths since 2000, when the MDGs were set.

“The world has delivered on halting and reversing the AIDS epidemic,” said Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations. “Now we must commit to ending the AIDS epidemic as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Released in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on the sidelines of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, the report demonstrates that the response to HIV has been one of the smartest investments in global health and development, generating measurable results for people and economies. It also shows that the world is on track to meet the investment target of US$22 billion for the AIDS response by 2015 and that concerted action over the next five years can end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

“Fifteen years ago there was a conspiracy of silence. AIDS was a disease of the “others” and treatment was for the rich and not for the poor,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “We proved them wrong, and today we have 15 million people on treatment—15 million success stories.”

How AIDS changed everything—MDG 6: 15 years, 15 lesson of hope from the AIDS response celebrates the milestone achievement of 15 million people on antiretroviral treatment—an accomplishment deemed impossible when the MDGs were established 15 years ago. It also looks at the incredible impact the AIDS response has had on people’s lives and livelihoods, on families, communities and economies, as well as the remarkable influence the AIDS response has had on many of the other MDGs. The report includes specific lessons to take forward into the SDGs, as well as the urgent need to front-load investments and streamline programmes for a five-year sprint to set the world on an irreversible path to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

In 2000, the world was witnessing an extraordinary number of new HIV infections. Every day, 8500 people were becoming newly infected with the virus and 4300 people were dying of AIDS-related illnesses. How AIDS changed everything describes how, against all odds, huge rises in new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths were halted and reversed.

New HIV infections

In 2000, AIDS began to be taken seriously. Far-sighted global leadership rallied, and the response that ensued made history. Between 2000 and 2014, new HIV infections dropped from 3.1 million to 2 million, a reduction of 35%. Had the world stood back to watch the epidemic unfold, the annual number of new HIV infections is likely to have risen to around 6 million by 2014.

In 2014, the report shows that 83 countries, which account for 83% of all people living with HIV, have halted or reversed their epidemics, including countries with major epidemics, such as India, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

“As a mother living with HIV I did everything in my capacity to ensure my children were born HIV-free, said Abiyot Godana, Case Manager at the Entoto Health Center. “My husband has grabbed my vision of ending AIDS and together we won’t let go of this hope. Our two children are a part of an AIDS-free generation and will continue our legacy.” Ethiopia has made significant progress in preventing new HIV infections among children. In 2000, around 36 000 children became infected with HIV. However, by 2014 that number had dropped by 87%, to 4800, as coverage of antiretroviral therapy to prevent new HIV infections among children increased to 73%.

Stopping new HIV infections among children has been one of the most remarkable successes in the AIDS response. In 2000, around 520 000 children became newly infected with HIV. In the absence of antiretroviral therapy, children were dying in large numbers. This injustice prompted the world to act—ensuring that pregnant women living with HIV had access to medicines to prevent their children from becoming infected with the virus became a top global priority.

The unprecedented action that followed achieved results. Between 2000 and 2014, the percentage of pregnant women living with HIV with access to antiretroviral therapy rose to 73% and new HIV infections among children dropped by 58%. By 2014, UNAIDS estimates that 85 countries had less than 50 new HIV infections among children per year, and in 2015 Cuba became the first country to be certified by the World Health Organization as having eliminated new HIV infections among children.

AIDS-related deaths

The second, critical measure for determining the success of MDG 6 is progress in halting and reversing the number of AIDS-related deaths. In 2000, AIDS was a death sentence. People who became infected with HIV had just a few years to live and the vast majority of children born with the virus died before they reached their fifth birthday.

Against incredible odds, the pace of antiretroviral therapy scale-up increased, ensuring more people remained alive and well. By 2005, AIDS-related deaths began to reverse, falling by 41% from 2005 to 2014.

Making the impossible, possible, 15 million people on HIV treatment

Ensuring access to antiretroviral therapy for 15 million people is an achievement deemed impossible 15 years ago. In 2000, fewer than 1% of people living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries had access to treatment, as the sky-high prices of medicines—around US$ 10 000 per person per year—put them out of reach. The inequity of access and injustice sparked global moral outrage, which created one of the most defining achievements of the response to HIV—massive reductions in the price of life-saving antiretroviral medicines.

By 2014, advocacy, activism, science, political will and a willingness by the pharmaceutical companies has brought the price of medicines for HIV down by 99%, to around US$ 100 per person per year for first-line formulations.

In 2014, 40% of all people living with HIV had access to antiretroviral therapy, a 22-fold increase over the past 14 years. In sub-Saharan Africa, 10.7 million people had access, 6.5 million (61%) of whom were women. Ensuring treatment for 15 million people around the world proves beyond a doubt that treatment can be scaled up even in resource-poor settings.

As access to treatment increased, the world raised the bar and has repeatedly set ambitious targets, culminating in today’s call of ensuring access to treatment for all 36.9 million people living with HIV.

Progress in ensuring access to HIV treatment has, however, been slower for children than for adults. As of 2014, only 32% of the 2.6 million children living with HIV had been diagnosed and only 32% of children living with HIV had access to antiretroviral therapy.

While the price of first-line medicines has reduced significantly, the prices of second and new generation medicines are still much too high and need to be urgently negotiated down

Knowledge ensures access

How AIDS changed everything includes exciting new information about access to treatment once people know their HIV status. Some 75% of people who know they have the virus are accessing antiretroviral therapy, showing that the majority of people do come forward for treatment and have access once they are diagnosed with HIV.

This emphasizes the urgent need to scale up HIV testing. In 2014, only 54% (19.8 million) of the 36.9 million people who are living with HIV knew that they are living with the virus.

An investment, not a cost

How AIDS changed everything shows how the economic impact is one of the greatest achievements of the response to HIV and one that will continue to yield results in years to come.

“The world went from millions to billions and each dollar invested today is producing a US$ 17 return,” said Mr Sidibé. “If we frontload investments and Fast-Track our efforts over the next five years, we will end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.”

Since 2000, an estimated US$ 187 billion has been invested in the AIDS response, US$ 90 billion of which came from domestic sources. By 2014, around 57% of AIDS investments came from domestic sources and 50 countries invested more than 75% of their responses from their own budgets—a big success for country ownership. The United States of America has invested more than US$ 59 billion in the AIDS response and is the largest international contributor. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria invests nearly US$ 4 billion each year towards AIDS programmes and has disbursed more than US$ 15.7 billion since its creation in 2002.

The report also shows that the next five years will be critical. Front-loading investments in the fragile five-year window up to 2020 could reduce new HIV infections by 89% and AIDS-related deaths by 81% by 2030.

Current investments in the AIDS response are around US$ 22 billion a year. That would need to be increased by US$ 8–12 billion a year in order to meet the Fast-Track Target of US$ 31.9 billion in 2020. By meeting the 2020 target, the need for resources would begin to permanently decline, reducing to US$ 29.3 billion in 2030 and far less in the future. This would produce benefits of more than US$ 3.2 trillion that extend well beyond 2030.

The report underscores that international assistance, especially for low-income and low-middle-income countries, will be necessary in the short term before sustainable financing can be secured in the long term. Sub-Saharan Africa will require the largest share of global AIDS financing: US$ 15.8 billion in 2020.

Countries that took charge have produced results

Countries that rapidly mounted robust responses to their epidemics saw impressive results. In 1980, life expectancy in Zimbabwe was around 60 years of age. In 2000, when the MDGs were set, life expectancy had dropped to just 44 years of age, largely owing to the impact of the AIDS epidemic. By 2013, however, life expectancy had risen again to 60 years of age as new HIV infections were reduced and access to antiretroviral treatment expanded.

Ethiopia has been particularly affected by the AIDS response, with 73 000 people dying of AIDS-related illnesses in 2000. Concerted efforts by the Ethiopian government have secured a drop of 71% in AIDS-related deaths between the peak in 2005 and 2014.

In Senegal, one of the earliest success stories of the global AIDS response, new HIV infections have declined by more than 87% since 2000. Similarly, Thailand, another success story, has reduced new HIV infections by 71% and AIDS-related deaths by 64%.

South Africa turned around its decline in life expectancy within 10 years, rising from 51 years in 2005 to 61 by the end of 2014, on the back a massive increase in access to antiretroviral therapy. South Africa has the largest HIV treatment programme in the world, with more than 3.1 million people on antiretroviral therapy, funded almost entirely from domestic sources. In the last five years alone, AIDS-related deaths have declined by 58% in South Africa.

Leaving no one behind

Much progress has been made in expanding HIV prevention services for key populations, even though significant gaps remain. Although more than 100 countries criminalize some form of sex work, sex workers continue to report the highest levels of condom use in the world—more than 80% in most regions.

Drug use remains criminalized in most countries, yet many do allow access to needle–syringe programmes and opioid substitution therapy. In 2014, HIV prevalence appears to have declined among people who inject drugs in almost all regions.

However, new HIV infections are rising among men who have sex with men, notably in western Europe and North America, where major declines were previously experienced. This indicates that HIV prevention efforts need to be adapted to respond to the new realities and needs of men who have sex with men. The number of adult men who have opted for voluntary medical male circumcision to prevent HIV transmission continues to increase. From 2008 to December 2014, about 9.1 million men in 14 priority countries opted to be circumcised. In 2014 alone, 3.2 million men in 14 priority countries were circumcised. Ethiopia and Kenya have both already exceeded their target of 80% coverage.

Tuberculosis (TB) remains a leading cause of death among people living with HIV, accounting for one in five AIDS-related deaths globally. However, between 2004 and 2014, TB deaths declined by 33% thanks to the rapid increase in antiretroviral treatment, which reduces the risk that a person living with HIV will develop TB by 65%.

Some 74 countries reported having laws in place prohibiting discrimination against people living with HIV. However, at present, 61 countries have legislation that allows for the criminalization of HIV non-disclosure, exposure or transmission. In 76 countries, same-sex sexual practices are criminalized. In seven countries they are punishable by death.

Transgender people are not recognized as a separate gender in most countries and are generally absent from public policy formulation and social protection programmes. The world remains far short of achieving its goal of eliminating gender inequalities and gender-based violence and abuse.

Better data

Countries have invested heavily in monitoring and evaluating their responses to HIV. In 2014, 92% of United Nations Member States reported HIV data to UNAIDS. State-of-the-art epidemic monitoring, data collection and reporting have made HIV data the most robust in the world, far more complete than data for any other disease. This has not only enabled the world to have a clear picture of HIV trends, it has also enabled HIV programming to be tailored to the specific dynamics of each country’s epidemic.

Together with How AIDS changed everything, UNAIDS is launching its new data visualization feature AIDSinfo. This innovative visualization tool allows users to view global, regional and national data on HIV through easy-to-use maps, graphs and tables adapted for all devices.

How AIDS changed everything

The UNAIDS book gives a vivid and insightful description of the impact the AIDS response has had on global health and development over the past 15 years and of the incredible importance of the lessons learned for ensuring the success of the SDGs.

How AIDS changed everything—MDG 6: 15 years, 15 lesson of hope from the AIDS response is both a look back on the journey of the last 15 years and a look forward to the future of the AIDS response and the path to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

The flagship publication from UNAIDS was released at a community event at Zewditu Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 14 July 2015 by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Minister of Health, Kesetebirhan Admassu of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Executive Director of UNAIDS Michel Sidibé and Abiyot Godana, Case Manager at the Entoto Health Center.

2014/2015 GLOBAL STATISTICS

Are you after a Bear that bares it all in a dark club? A Muscle-Mary with a penis as firm as his pecs? A Twink who takes it from a-top? A Drag Queen who dares to enter a darkroom? An After 9 who likes to give it from behind? A Sugar Daddy seeking out his next candy crush? A Ladyboy with the parts to please? Or just a regular guy who likes guys?

Regardless of your particular preference, men who have sex with men (MSM) are South Africa’s most at risk population for HIV acquisition and transmission. For this reason ‘WeTheBrave’, a sexual health campaign, is being launched with MSM in mind. This will be the first large scale campaign ever in this country to specifically address MSM.

Spearheaded by the Anova Health Institute, and funded by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the WeTheBrave.co.za campaign will address both prevention and treatment issues in an affirming, non-judgemental and sex positive way, which will be entertaining and engaging.

According to Anova Health Institute CEO Prof. James McIntyre, “MSM are at higher risk for HIV infection for many reasons, including lack of knowledge about HIV and lack of access to early treatment. Several South African studies have shown that as many as one in three gay men in some South African settings are already HIV positive. We have to reach out now to this vulnerable community.”

“We have three main goals with the campaign: ensuring that MSM have the knowledge and opportunities to prevent new HIV infections, that they understand the benefits of regular HIV testing, to know their status and that they use antiretroviral treatment when and if they need it.

The campaign recognises that MSM face stigma, discrimination and even violence, but that they overcome this in their daily lives. The WeTheBrave campaign recognises this and shows these men that they can channel that bravery and strength to overcome the challenges of HIV,” says McIntyre.

The first phase of the campaign will target the Gauteng area, extending later to other centres, but the online and mobile platform will be accessible from the start across the country.

Be Brave Enough

’WeTheBrave’ asks MSM to be brave enough to make healthy sexual choices like wearing a condom, getting tested regularly and knowing their status. The campaign will link to Anova’s Health4Men clinical services in the public sector, in all provinces, and an interactive map will allow men to find the nearest clinic.  Alternatively, MSM can find independent clinicians in the private sector through the WeTheBrave website.

In a special message from Sir Elton John for the South African launch, he says “Being a gay man takes courage. You’re brave enough to come out of the closet, defy stigmas, fight stereotypes and face the daily challenges of your sexuality. So I’m challenging all South African MSM to apply this innate bravery to taking care of your sexual health and that of your current and potential partners. There is a window of opportunity before us, a window through which we can very clearly see the end of AIDS within my lifetime. For South African MSM, that window of opportunity is now.”

Go on, be brave enough to visit www.wethebrave.co.za and use the #WeTheBrave #BraveEnough hashtags to join the conversation on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.  

Joshua Murphy from Anova’s Health Systems and Advisory Services team won Discovery Health’s Clinical Excellence Award: Best Research Poster at the SA AIDS conference in Durban in June. He plans to direct his award to a community-based organisation doing HIV prevention and treatment work.

Joshua, who was surprised and proud at receiving the award, said: "Coming to the SA AIDS conference is always an honour and a privilege. It’s a powerful event with so much history and a big responsibility providing recommendations, sharing successes and areas of improvement for the world’s largest HIV treatment programme. At my first conference in 2013, I was struck by how much I felt a part of the community of those working in this field – from South African Department of health to academics and local NGO partners, it’s always nice to see friends and share updates."

"I think demand for data visualisation and use of routine data is growing rapidly in South Africa. We have access to more and more data at our fingertips and now’s the time to put that data to good use – to inform programme, prioritise, and provide better services to clients and communities. To use the cliché, we’re moving away from ‘being data rich and information poor – to being both data and information rich."

The SA AIDS Conference highlighted the progress South Africa has made in the fight against HIV and AIDS. The Anova Health Institute presented 20 poster presentations and three oral presentaions as well as showcasing their work at an exhibition stand throughout the conference.

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Johannesburg Metro Health District, in partnership with Anova, hosted a successful one day symposium on Primary Healthcare (PHC) Re-engineering, where over 300 delegates attended. The workshop allowed stakeholders in the district, including developmental partners, PEPFAR, to enagage on the strategy for PHC Re-engineering in an effort to strengthen implementation in the district.

The workshop centred around reporting on progress to date and current activities in PHC Implementation for Johannesburg Metro Health District. It also highlighted opportunities and challenges in PHC re-engineering implementation and the way forward on how to apply the programme in the district.

The symposium provided information on the road travelled to date on PHC Re-engineering in the JHB Metro Health District and the progress made compared to other districts in Gauteng province. Dr Khethisa Taole from the National Department of Health presented a national overview of the progress made in other provinces. This was followed by a range of insightful presentations and captivating talks given by various speakers. These included Dr Muzi Matse from Health Systems Trust on the use of mHealth for WBOTs in the North West Province and Professor Tessa Marcus from the University of Pretoria, Department of Family Medicine, on the Community Oriented Primary Care Model. 

Interactive breakaway sessions provided the attendees the opportunity to propose innovative solutions and ways to improve various aspects of the programme. Overall, the workshop was well-attended and proved to be an excellent platform to exchange ideas with key stakeholders involved in Programme implementation.

Downloads:

 913-news-Tshikoto, Mashudu - 2_FINAL.pdf

 913-news-Sanders, David (SDH).pdf

 913-news-Sanders, David (Improving health services).pdf

 913-news-Mulaudzi, Mavis.pdf

 913-news-Ntila, Hamilton - 3_FINAL.pdf

 913-news-Marcus, Tessa.pdf

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 913-news-20150506 - Nurse programme_PRINT 4_FINAL.pdf

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The Anova Health Institute, the lead organisation addressing HIV among gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in South Africa, welcomes the announcement of exciting developments regarding HIV prevention at the 2015 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. The conference is currently taking place in Seattle, Washington.

Researchers have confirmed the results of an earlier randomised trial and presented unequivocal evidence that the use of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) can be used as a reliable biomedical HIV prevention strategy by MSM when taken in advance of potential exposure to the virus. Referred to as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), such use of specific ARVs allows men to use chronic medication to prevent becoming HIV positive.

The findings relate specifically to MSM following the early completion of two studies, in France and England respectively, that provide dramatic proof of the efficacy of PrEP among the key population. In both of these studies, men were protected against HIV infection while taking the drugs, with a reduction in risk of over 80%. Significantly, the studies also demonstrated that men, who requested access to PrEP, were able to manage the treatment successfully, including necessary adherence.

Professor James McIntyre, Chief Executive Officer of the Anova Health Institute, hailed the announcement: “We revel in this development which heralds an exciting and bold new era in HIV prevention for MSM, a population at particular risk of both acquiring and transmitting the virus. Being able to prevent MSM becoming infected through a biomedical intervention will have an exponential impact of the epidemic among this Key Population by providing a buffer to the cycle of transmission.”

Anova’s Dr Kevin Rebe played an active role in developing guidelines for the use of PrEP among MSM, both locally with the South African Clinicians Society and internationally as a reviewer of the World Health Organisation’s 2014 PrEP guidelines. Rebe says: “PrEP is a vital addition to the package of prevention options available to MSM. We are very excited about the new study results and are looking forward to providing PrEP as part of effective combined prevention interventions.”

McIntyre added that the South African Department of Health has already expressed interest in exploring PrEP as a reliable HIV prevention strategy targeting MSM. “We know that PrEP works, this can no longer be questioned and we are engaging with the Department in this regard. Significantly, Anova’s Health4Men Initiative has received funding from the Elton John AIDS Foundation to implement and review a limited rollout of PrEP among MSM in Cape Town, in partnership with the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation.”

Anova's Cape Winelands project is having an impact on the youth through their Community Outreach Team which addresses the needs of HIV-positive children. The work done by this team (made up of a counsellor/data mentor, a counsellor manager, a social worker and an antiretroviral (ARV) doctor) is based around the Infectious Diseases Clinic (IDC) at TC Newman Hospital Paarl.

The team initiated a programme that attempts to offer a holistic experience in the treatment of HIV in paediatric patients by establishing an experimental multi-pronged and holistic approach with programmes for young children, adolescents and selected caregivers.

Experience at the clinic has shown that younger children with poor family support may experience low rates of disclosure and poor adherence to their medication. This has been confirmed by a study in adherence in which the team participated in 2013/14. This Stellenbosch University study aimed to identify ways to improve paediatric adherence through a daily tool. The target group was 2-12-years-old. Initial findings highlighted the relationship of family support and disclosure to adherence. Experience has also shown that the disclosure and adherence experience at younger ages can have severe consequences at the adolescent stage.

Along with the ARV doctor, Anova has instituted the use of a South2South disclosure booklet, involving caregivers and children in a process of disclosure. This programme was piloted in the IDC and will be rolled out to other sub-districts in 2015. The book gives structure to the caregivers and counsellors, as well as being an interactive and subtle way for children to learn their status.

A Whatsapp site has been set up to keep in contact and respond to questions. The Choma phone app by HIVSA has also been promoted to put adolescents in touch through its dynamic youth electronic magazine that deals with health issues.

The outreach team also does home visits where caregivers, especially grandmothers, are struggling to manage their adolescents. Selected caregivers as well as older adolescents participated in two separate Healing through Objects and Memory workshops, as a therapy tool.

Gap year programme

A gap year programme has also been established which aims to introduce developmental milestones, which will assist the youth with school performance. Currently there is a 23-year-old young man born with HIV, who has great insight into the complexities of HIV, and who is very good at communicating with adolescents and engaging them in constructive activities. There is also a young mother who offers supervised stimulating play to children waiting at the clinic. This will be facilitated by a new initiative, Go Bags, through which age appropriate toys and games will stimulate children at different levels to enhance their school performance.

The gap year programme offers opportunities to the participating members, exposing them to new skills, work and study prospects, while they share their time and expertise with children and adolescents in the clinic. PATA funding has enabled them to be paid a small stipend. The first gap year student was able to get an internship in a government department, an opportunity that came to her through being on the programme.

Men who have sex with men (MSM) living in East Africa, where homophobia is on the rise, now have access to a unique website, Afya4Men.info, which contains comprehensive sexual health information targeted to their specific needs.

Health4Men, an innovative project of the Anova Health Institute, partnered with the International HIV/AIDS Alliance in 2013 to roll out a comprehensive education programme for MSM in Africa.  This has already resulted in health workers from several Eastern African countries being trained to address the sexual health needs of MSM.

Prof James McIntyre, CEO of Anova, says: “Through our partnership with the Alliance we have been able to extend our MSM expertise beyond our borders through our two Centres of Excellence in South Africa. Specific MSM medical competence has already been developed in these countries but due to often hostile environments, in many instances including criminalisation of male-to-male sex, has resulted in a lack of localised relevant information being freely available to MSM themselves. The Afya4Men.info site addresses this essential gap.”

Afya4Men.info is entirely bilingual, offering information in both Swahili and English. It has been designed to be easily accessed on any computer or mobile phone with an internet connection. All information can also be downloaded for easy sharing with others.

Gavin Reid, the Regional Programme Advisor for the Alliance’s Men's Sexual Health and Rights Programme (SHARP), explains: “Information and education are the first steps toward MSM being able to protect themselves from HIV and other STIs. The Alliance’sprogrammes in Eastern Africa shows that opportunities for MSM in the region to access quality and holistic information has been extremely limited until now.”

Dr Andrew Tucker from Health4Men says: “We deliberately developed the site for quick and easy use in environments where internet access is often limited. In time we will add additional information based on the feedback that we get from MSM in Eastern Africa.”

For Caroline Dorval Defferary, Grant Manager at the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, strategic partnerships are important to achieving the goal of the Alliance: “The Alliance is committed to ending AIDS by supporting communities most affected by HIV. By combining our work in Eastern and Southern Africa with Health4Men’s unique and comprehensive expertise we are getting closer to that aim.”

Speakers at the event commemorating World AIDS Day at Alexandra Health Centre and University Clinic took stock of the successes in preventing and treating HIV, but also highlighted stumbling blocks to the UNAIDS vision of “zero infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero discrimination”.

Nozipho Maseko, a nurse at Anova, was invited to speak on prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) at the event. Highlighting the gains made in PMTCT in South Africa over the last 14 years, she recalled the days when it was virtually impossible to prevent a an HIV-positive mother from passing the virus on to her child, compared to a mother-to-child transmission rate of just 3% today.

However, despite the gains made over the last decade, Nozipho stressed that there continue to be issues preventing South Africa from reaching a place where all children are born free of HIV. Among these, Nozipho highlighted a need for family planning regardless of HIV status, ensuring that mothers presented as early as possible for antenatal care and a need for people to share information around safe infant feeding.

Other speakers included a representative from the Society of Traditional Healers and the CEO of Alexandra Clinic, Labane Maluleke. Maluleke emphasised the importance of men becoming involved in HIV prevention efforts, such as HIV testing and PMTCT.

 

Anova is participating in a few World AIDS Day events throughout South Africa.

In Gauteng, Anova will be involved in the following events:

29 November 2014
Men to Men
Time and venue TBA

1 December 2014
Gauteng provincial World AIDS Day event
Time and venue TBA

In Limpopo, Anova will be reaching out to communities through its mobile unit as part of its Family Free project.

25 November 2014
Door-to-door education campaign and mobile health screenings
Where: Mbalula Village, Giyani Sub-district
Door-to-door education campaign to recruit community members to utilise mobile health unit services available on the day. Screenings on offer for HIV, TB, STIs and glucose. Pap smears, eye tests and CD4 count assessment will also be available.

26, 27 November and 1 & 2 December
Westfallia Farm and Northern Timbers Wellness Week
Anova and Orange Babies’ Family Free Mobile health Unit will support Westfallia Farm and Northern Timbers in offering a variety of health screening options to their farm workers. Screenings on offer for HIV, TB, STIs, glucose, eye health and CD4 count assessment.

3 December 2014
Phalaborwa Municipality WAD celebration
Where: Makhushane sports grounds
Anova, through Family Free, will be offering various health screenings at this WAD event.
Time and venue TBA

4 December 2014
Limpopo province WAD commemoration
Where: Thohoyandou Correctional Services
Anova, through Family Free, will be offering various health screenings at this World AIDS Day event.

Anova's Dr Kevin Rebe provides expert context and commentary on the HSRC's newly released MSM-focused study on the Mail & Guardian online.

In the wake of the study's release today, Dr Rebe clarified that no accurate figures exist on the number of men who have sex with men (MSM) who identify as heterosexual in South Africa.

Dr Rebe also clarified why MSM were biologically at higher risk of HIV infection, saying that it "is due to the friable nature of the rectal mucosa, which does not contain mucous-producing cells as compared to the thicker, self-lubricating lining of the vagina".

Hailed as the largest MSM-centred South African research study, the Marang study focused on black and coloured, gay, bisexual and heterosexual identifying MSM from Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Given the samples used, Rebe warned that the HSRC's study results might not be true for MSM across the country.

The Marang study found that HIV prevalence increased with age across all three cities, with HIV prevalence higher among those over 25 as compared to those who fell into the 18-24 age bracket.

According to the study, married MSM in Durban and Cape Town had a higher HIV prevalence than their single counterparts, whereas the reverse was true for married MSM from Johannesburg, where single MSM were more at risk.

Click here to access the HSRC book.

Click here to read the full M&G article.

Dr Kevin Rebe is an infectious diseases physician from the Anova Health Institut's Health4Men project

Health4Men, a project of the Anova Health Institute at the forefront of promoting access to competent health services for men who have sex with men (MSM) throughout South Africa, has extended their use of cellular phone technology to reach their target group.

The project already uses such technology as a platform to provide MSM-specific information on HIV prevention and treatment, other sexually transmitted infections and substance abuse, through their h4m.mobisite.  The site, launched in 2011, offers MSM the opportunity to pose anonymous questions to Health4Men’s team of doctors and to view responses on their cell phones.

As of today, MSM will be able to use their cell phones to identify and locate their nearest competent clinic through the mobi site. They can do this by simply entering either their street address, village or town on their phone.

With support from PEPFAR and USAID, and more recently the Global Fund, Health4Men is undertaking an intensive programme of sensitising, training and mentoring health workers within the public health sector to render MSM-competent health services without prejudice or stigma. To date, 68 public clinics have been declared MSM-competent across four provinces (Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Western Cape), in both urban and rural settings.

As Health4Men continues training and mentoring health workers in the remaining five provinces, additional competent sites will be announced.

In order to promote awareness of this service Health4Men has partnered with the popular gay website,MambaOnline to feature the search facility on their website.

Professor James McIntyre, CEO of the Anova Health Institute, reinforced the need for innovative responses to the health needs of MSM: “Many of these men do not identify as being either gay or bisexual and therefore don’t access health-related messaging in the gay media. MSM who identify as heterosexual are a particularly challenging grouping to reach and we are increasingly turning to discreet platforms such as cell phones, to provide access to relevant information. While we have developed significant capacity within the public health sector to work with MSM, this latest development will stimulate demand for and ensure access to these services.”

McIntyre added that the recent grant to Anova by the Elton John AIDS Foundation and PEPFAR jointly, will allow for an even greater emphasis on using innovative media platforms such as cell phone technology to promote sexual health among MSM.

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