aidsfocus news

aidsfocus news
February 2017

Feb 02, 2017


New ways to deal with the HIV / AIDS epidemic

Dear aidsfocus readers,

The coverage of World AIDS Day 2016 on Swiss television (SRF, 1st December 2016) was brief but impressive. It showed how attempts are being made to pursue new approaches in the fight against HIV/AIDS, far away in rural Lesotho. Directed by the Swiss doctor Niklaus Labhardt, small teams of local health workers are going from door to door, testing people for HIV.

This is, without a doubt, a mammoth undertaking, but it is also very effective when you consider that every fourth person in Lesotho is HIV positive. Thanks to a research project carried out by SolidarMed and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), people in a specific district in Lesotho now have the important chance to find out their HIV status and start treatment right there where they live and work.

Although it is now known that early diagnosis and timely treatment improve the prognosis dramatically, prevent the onset of AIDS and inhibit new infections, many people still do not have the opportunity to be tested and treated for HIV in such an effective manner. To meet the targets approved by the UN member states of providing around 95% of the 37 million HIV-positive people with treatment by 2030, approximately 17 million more people infected with HIV need to be reached. This does not only indicate the need for huge expansion in HIV testing, but also the closing of gaps in the supply of life-saving antiretroviral medications. To this day, primarily in West and Central Africa, people are turned away from treatment centres due to shortages in medication supplies, or only make it to the clinic when they are already terminally ill.

The vast numbers of bottlenecks and deficits in the provision of life-long treatment illustrates the fact that the available services are rarely aimed towards the reality of people’s lives and their individual needs. The ‘one size fits all’ approach, so commonly implemented in programmes, is unfair to many people affected and other approaches are necessary in order to prevent situations such as the one described below, which arise on a daily basis:

“The amount of time we spend at the health facility in the queues – a queue for triage, a queue for the nurse, a queue at the pharmacy and a queue for the labs – it's too much time. I want to come to the facility only twice a year... I have a life to live.” (Patricia Asero Achieng, person living with HIV in Kenya)

SolidarMed’s pilot project in Lesotho demonstrates that there are alternative ways to handling the epidemic and the provision of treatment. Read more about this exciting project, the specific challenges it faces, and the extent to which it promises success for other regions in our interview with the research director Dr Niklaus Labhardt (Swiss TPH, SolidarMed).

Martina Staenke
Collaborator communication Medicus Mundi Switzerland

Topic of the month

Lesotho: A research partnership seeks to put UNAIDS targets within reach - Interview with Niklaus Labhardt (Swiss TPH)

UNAIDS has set ambitious targets for 2020: 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90% of all people diagnosed with HIV will have access to treatment, and 90% of the people receiving treatment will have suppressed the virus to an undetectable level. Using this 90-90-90 strategy, UNAIDS aims to end the HIV epidemic by 2030. This target can only be achieved through concentrated efforts.


International news

Trump's Global Gag Rule May Have Terrible Impact On HIV/AIDS Patients

SELF - "It can undo years of progress in the war on HIV/AIDS. You’ve probably heard at some point this week about the global gag rule that Donald Trump signed on Monday. The rule bans U.S. funds from going toward international health organizations that provide abortions or that even mention abortion as a family planning option, even though American money already wasn't paying for abortion-related services.


HIV infections in Russia reach record-high and account for almost two-thirds of new cases in Europe

Independent - "Two-thirds of all new HIV cases in Europe are being recorded in just one country – Russia. More than a million Russians now live with the virus and that number is expected to nearly double in the next decade, in what has been called Europe's HIV epidemic.


Cure For HIV, AIDS Coming Soon? Bill Gates Invests $140M In Company Creating Infection-Prevention Implant

International Business Times - "The Microsoft founder has been steadily backing medical research for years with his and his wife’s Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a global organization supporting worldwide activism and access to healthcare and education. Gates' latest investment in a biopharmaceutical tech company based in Boston could yield one of the largest revelations in HIV research yet — with a single, tiny drug pump that can be implanted underneath the skin.


The Success Of HIV Treatment Is Increasing The Risk Of Drug-Resistance

Huffington Post - "Global health agencies are succeeding in getting more people with HIV on antiretroviral therapy, a combination of drugs that suppress the virus to undetectable levels in the blood and reduce the risk of transmission to another person.


World AIDS Day 2016: Lessons for reversing inequality by Mark Goldring, Oxfam UK Executive Director

Global Health Check - "Today is World AIDS Day, a day to celebrate the many lives saved and to remember the many lost to the HIV virus. Importantly it is a day to reflect on what we have learnt from working to address the inequality challenges of the HIV epidemic. This is particularly critical for civil society, and others, working to reverse inequality. I will focus here on 4 lessons:


Is global health industry too self-serving in the fight against AIDS?

Humanosphere - "Washington state’s global health community is a recognized leader in the fight against many diseases of poverty including HIV/AIDS. No question about that. The question is whether our region’s leadership, the way we choose to fight the pandemic, is actually doing more for us than the people we claim to be helping.


Reports and Studies

What are the key steps to effective delivery of PrEP care?

aidsmap - "Providing pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to people who need it entails at least nine key steps, which can be conceived of as a PrEP continuum of care, according to an article published online ahead of print by Amy Nunn and colleagues in AIDS. This continuum can help define benchmarks by which progress in implementing PrEP in different programmes can be compared.


Young people, in all their diversity, are central to the HIV response - "This week, a Journal of Adolescent Health supplement “Integrating Rights into HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health: Evidence and experiences from the Link Up Project” is published. It brings together key learnings and reflections on the importance of recognising and engaging with diversity among young people in terms of age, gender, HIV status, and social circumstances, as well as country contexts.


The Global Fund and CRG Community Starter Kits

The Global Fund - "Resources and tools to promote communities, rights & gender in Global Fund-supportes programmes.


UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB)

UNAIDS - "6th-9th of December, the 39th UNAIDS Programme and Coordinating Board (PCB) took place under Swiss chairmanship in Geneva.


Strengthening the gender-sensitivity of national HIV monitoring and evaluation systems

UNAIDS - "The World Health Organization and UNAIDS have released a new publication to enhance the ability of counties to collect, analyse and disseminate gender-responsive data.


Partners Launch Equitable Access Initiative Report

The Global Fund - "A group of leading organizations today launched the Equitable Access Initiative report, a new policy framework designed to better inform decision making on health and development. The new guidance takes into account countries’ needs and capacities in a changing landscape affected by economic growth, rising inequality and shifts in burdens of disease.


The 2017-2019 Global Fund Funding Cycle: Highlights of the differentiated funding application process

The Global Fund - "This alert provides an update to community groups who have been or are planning to be involved with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS TB and Malaria as an implementer, advocate, or member of a Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM).



Evidence Meets Decisions Makers - Better Use of Evidence for Better Health

The Swiss TPH Spring Symposium 2017, 6 April 2017 - The Swiss TPH invites public health policy makers, statisticians, and global health specialists and students to review and discuss the current evidence on how the use of data and information by decision makers can be improved in the health sector.


7th European Conference on African Studies

7th European Conference on African Studies, 29 June 2017 - The Centre for African Studies Basel and the Swiss Society for African Studies welcome you to the 7th European Conference on African Studies ECAS 2017 with the theme: Urban Africa - Urban Africans: New encounters of the rural and the urban, which they organise on behalf of the Research Network of African Studies Centres in Europe AEGIS.


9th IAS Conference on HIV Science (IAS 2017)

The IAS Conference, 23 July 2017 - Bonjour! It is with great pleasure that we invite you to take part in the 9th IAS Conference on HIV Science (IAS 2017) on 23-26 July 2017 at the Palais des Congrès in Paris, France. This biennial gathering is the largest open scientific conference on HIV and AIDS related issues - bringing together a broad cross-section of more than 6,000 professionals from around the world to meet and examine the latest scientific developments in HIV-related research with a focus on moving science into practice and policy.

read more... is a project of the Network Medicus Mundi Switzerland.