aidsfocus news

aidsfocus news
May 2018

May 31, 2018


We must call out the chief causes by name!

Dear aidsfocus readers,

“In the past I never used condoms and I had rough sex with girls and young women,” said a young man of 22 in rural Lesotho. "I felt powerful during those moments, because I had been taught that that’s how you should treat women," he added.

An example showing how violence against women and girls is often normalised and not recognised as a social problem. And Lesotho is just one case in point – in every single country in the world, violence against women and girls is more or less part of everyday life.

On 2 May 2018 the Medicus Mundi Switzerland network held its annual conference in Bern. This year, the topic was gender-based violence (GBV). We discussed causes and concrete solutions to prevent and minimise GBV. The speakers made it clear that the fight against gender-based violence requires a cross-sector approach.

The #MeToo movement has lifted the taboo on sexual harassment and abuse in many places. And yet, in many countries, violence continues to be invisible. A poorly functioning healthcare system means that rape victims must bear both the physical and mental burden of their experience on their own. The fear of not being believed, or being told that what they experienced doesn’t actually amount to rape, means that many survivors do not realise that they are entitled to both justice and medical care.

At the conference we also discussed why even aid organisations are not immune to sexual harassment and exploitation by their own workers (see the Oxfam scandal!). Sexual exploitation and abuse in the area of humanitarian aid and development cooperation work stem from an inequality of power connected to sexism, racism and global power structures. Alongside strengthening organisational structures, we must also call out the chief causes by name, otherwise any solutions will remain reactive and superficial.

Achille Bapolisi, our speaker from Bukavu in South Kivu (DRC), is a psychiatrist. He reported to the conference on the difficulties of providing psychosocial support to rape victims in refugee camps in Uganda. Read his fascinating article in our topic of the month.


Carine Weiss


Project Leader, Medicus Mundi Switzerland


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Topic of the month

Challenges and perspectives in the psychosocial management of victims of gender-based violence in refugee camps

MMS/ - Psychological disturbance is highly prevalent among victims of gender-based violence who can present a complex and severe symptomatology. And very few such victims actually dare to seek care in the face of stigmatisation. The limited number of health professionals in the field, and the lack of mental healthcare training specific to the disturbances of this vulnerable group, make it very difficult for patients to access psychiatric care. By Achille Bapolisi speaker at our MMS/aidsfocus conference "Gender-based violence" on 2nd May 2018.


Information from the Swiss community of practice

DOCUMENTATION MMS/ conference 2018: Gender-Based Violence: Approaches and Challenges at Community and Advocacy Level

MMS/ - It was a great pleasure to organise and host the MMS/ Conference 2018 about Gender-Based Violence. We gained a lot of new insights and are inspired to take even more actions! Have a look at the documentation.


Schweizer HIV&STI-Forum 2018 hat stattgefunden

BAG - Das BAG hat am 8. März 2018 gemeinsam mit der AHS und SGCH das achte Schweizer HIV&STI-Forum zur Umsetzung des Nationalen Programms HIV und andere sexuell übertragbare Infektionen (NPHS) durchgeführt. Thema der Veranstaltung war «Sexuell übertragbare Infektionen in der Schweiz: Aktuelle Studien und Präventionsmassnahmen».


«Bei unklaren Symptomen wird heute viel schneller ein HIV Test gemacht»

Aids-Hilfe Schweiz (AHS) - "Auch nach Jahren als Infektiologe mit Schwerpunkt HIV ist er mit Leib und Seele und grossem Engagement unterwegs: Professor Enos Bernasconi aus Lugano. Unermüdlich setzt er sich für seine Patienten und Patientinnen ein, ist wissenschaftlich tätig und gibt sein grosses Wissen an Medizinstudierende weiter.


Wir müssen besonders auf die Jugendlichen achten

SolidarMed - Thabo Lejone arbeitet seit 2012 für SolidarMed und ist massgeblich an der Studie beteiligt, in der SolidarMed und das Swiss TPH die Wirkung von Home-Testing untersuchen.


International news

HIV/AIDS community divided over allegations about UNAIDS

The Lancet - "Although terms of reference were agreed for an Independent Expert Panel on harassment, the controversy continues to divide the HIV/AIDS community. John Zarocostas reports.


Alliance denounces absence of community at WHA event on HIV prevention - "Today, at the World Health Assembly, a high-level ministerial event reviewed the global progress being made on HIV prevention. UNAIDS also released a progress report tracking ‘Implementation of the HIV Prevention 2020 Road Map’, following the agreement by fast track countries to revisit prevention targets in October 2017.


France to Host Global Fund Replenishment Conference

The Global Fund, GENEVA – "The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria expressed tremendous appreciation for President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to host the next Global Fund replenishment conference in France in 2019.


Global Fund Board Strengthens Sustainability and Domestic Financing

The Global Fund, SKOPJE, 10 May 2018 - "The Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, at its 39th Board meeting, highlighted the importance of strengthening sustainability and supporting successful transition to domestic financing to build long-term solutions and achieve greater health security.


HIV drug shortage puts hundreds of thousands of lives at risk in Uganda

The Guardian - "Scarcity of antibiotic Septrin drives fears of weakened immunity among patients, setting back efforts to end Aids by 2030.


Advocating for zero discrimination in health-care settings in Kenya

UNAIDS - "Like many women in sub-Saharan Africa, women in Kenya are disproportionately affected by HIV. In 2016, 34 000 adult women became newly infected with HIV, compared with 22 000 adult men, and adult women accounted for 910 000 of the 1.6 million people living with HIV in the country.


Reports and Studies

PEPFAR’s Impact on Global Health Is Fading

Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) - "During its fifteen years, PEPFAR has become one of the most important global health initiatives ever launched. However, its influence is fading, threatening the global fight against HIV/AIDS as the struggle against the pandemic faces a turning point.


Adolescent health troubles in South Africa’s rural areas should be a key priority

International Health Policies (IHP) newsletter - "Growing up in a rural area is different from growing up in the cities. I was born and raised in a rural village of South Africa (SA), in Nzhelele, where life was a routine, as you saw the same people over and over again. There were two primary schools, one high school and one clinic. Living in a small village wasn’t always easy, though. I felt as though my business was the community's business - everybody knew each other. (Featured Article by Phumudzo Mufamadi)


Survive, Thrive, Transform - Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016-2030)

UNAIDS - "The report sets out the status of women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health, and on health systems and social and environmental determinants. Regional dashboards on 16 key indicators highlight where progress is being made or lagging. There is progress overall, but not at the level required to achieve the 2030 goals.


AIDS, Africa, and high ambition

The Lancet Infection Diseases - "UNAIDS intends to end HIV/AIDS as a public health threat in Africa by 2030. There is cause for optimism, but a lack of funding threatens the initiative. Talha Burki reports.


Global HIV Prevention Coalition accelerates action to reduce new HIV infections

UNAIDS - "The Global HIV Prevention Coalition has launched its first progress report: Taking stock of the progress made in strengthening political commitment for HIV prevention and reducing new HIV infections, the report shows that significant progress has been made since the launch of the Global HIV Prevention Coalition six months ago. National prevention coalitions have been established to accelerate and better coordinate responses, new and ambitious prevention programme targets have been set in many countries and HIV strategies that focus on prevention have been launched.



Sexuelle Rechte in der Schweiz

Aids Hilfe Bern, 31. Mai 2018, Bern - Über welche sexuellen Rechte verfügen Migrant_innen in der Schweiz? Und was hat das Wissen über sexuelle Rechte mit Chancengleichheit und der Förderung der sexuellen Gesundheit von Migrant_innen zu tun?


International Conference "Men move: policy debates and good practice on engaging men and boys in development cooperation"

IAMANEH Switzerland, 7-8 June 2018, Basel - MEN MOVE! All over the world, important men's initiatives questioning gender stereotypes and embracing new masculinities are being launched. Men wish to become gender-equal partners, caring fathers and just members of society. Engaging and working with men and boys is essential for achieving gender equality. This approach has also produced tangible results in the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights, and the reduction of gender-based violence over recent years.


Alma Ata et la santé communautaire : 40 ans de défis !

Medicus Mundi Suisse, 19 juin 2018, Lausanne - Il y a quarante ans, les Etats membres de l’OMS adoptaient la déclaration d’Alma Ata. Au cœur de cet engagement : rendre accessibles des soins de santé primaires à tous et en mobilisant les ressources au niveau des communautés.


AIDS 2018

The International AIDS Society, 23 July 2018, Amsterdam - The IAS announced that Amsterdam, Netherlands will host the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018). AIDS 2018 is expected to bring together some 18,000 participants from around the world. “The Netherlands is a great example of what happens when a government supports outstanding science and embraces evidence-based HIV programmes in combination with a robust commitment to human rights,” said Chris Beyrer, President of the IAS.

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