Archive for the In the News Category

Gedamara-A

Posted by on Sunday, June 9, 2013 at 9:55 am

When we arrived in Gedamar A, we got to know our host family and then spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the village. The town is very small, so it didn’t take long for word to get out that the wazungu had arrived. All of the school children rushed out of the classroom to greet us and give us ‘tano’s and we arranged to teach at the primary school the following day. We also met with the village chairman, who who welcomed us and invited us to speak at the next village meeting.

The next day, we taught about ‘fluids and doors’ and ABK’s to forms 6 and 7 and it was fun and rewarding to see the kids absorbing the information. After we did the condom demonstration, we had a boy and a girl come up and try it themselves, and we rewarded them with chocolate. While Gabriel taught the boys about male puberty, Amanda and Rosalie went outside to play with the girls. They enjoyed watching them jump rope using several vines tied together.

The following day we went to teach at another primary school all the way in Manyara. The path from Gedamar to Manyara twisted among the sunflower and cornfields surrounding the village, and we saw 40 acres that belong to our Baba (father). The walk took 3 hours and 3 hours to return, but it was worth it. Because Manyara is even more remote than Gedamar A, the kids seemed to have even less knowledge about HIV, so it was all the more important that we made the journey to teach them.

In addition to teaching, we’ve been conducting surveys regarding condom availability and HIV awareness. We were surprised to find that the shops sell very few condoms despite the low cost of 100 shillings per condom (about 6 cents), one shop owner admitted that she had only sold 2 packs of condoms in the past month. We were also surprised that many residents do not perceive HIV as a major threat in the community. They even list cancer and malaria as issues, but only a few mention HIV. We were even more concerned to discover that the majority of our survey participants would choose not to buy fruit from a vendor if they know (s)he had HIV.

We hope that over the course of the next six weeks we can increase HIV/AIDS awareness and decrease stigma by sharing our knowledge with the Gedamar community. We look forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead as we work with SIC to flight HIV.

 

 

Written by: Rosalie, Gabriel and Amanda

SIC UK’s HIV Education Program Gets Praised By Specialists

Posted by on Saturday, January 19, 2013 at 5:37 pm

As part of the ongoing efforts to raise the profile of SIC in the UK, the National Committee has been presenting the ‘HIVE model’ at conferences around the country. There wasn’t long to wait for recognition, with our first conference yielding results in June: Exeter Medical Education conference awarded SIC UK first place for both our oral presentation and our poster presentation.



Building on that success, a poster about the HIVE model won another prize in November, this time at the National Medical Education Conference in Wessex.


These conferences were fantastic opportunities to showcase SIC UK’s work around the country and have provided numerous networking opportunities. Additionally it reinforces the credibility of the HIVE program and demonstrates the consistently high standards of work we are sustainably delivering for free throughout the UK via our HIVE branches.


We will continue to spread the word about SIC UK and most recently our work has been accepted for an oral presentation in Bristol at the end of January.


A big thank-you to all of the HIVE university committees who are carrying out this work on a day-to-day basis. If you would like more information on getting the HIVE program to your university email: ruth@sichange.org.uk

Safer Sex in the United States

Posted by on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 3:16 pm

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more american’s than ever are practicing “safer sex”. This means they are actually engaging in less “high risk for HIV” behavior, such as illicit drug use, multiple partners, or unprotected sex.

Use of condoms increased to 35% during 2006-2010 up from 30% in 2002.

The most important finding of the study is identifying which population groups are most at risk. For example, participants ages 20-24 are more likely to engage in one of the ten “risky behaviors”.

There’s no definitive reason for the decline in risky behavior, however this success could imply that the public health awareness campaigns are working.

Want to read more about this topic?

We suggest MSNBC’s article “High-Risk HIV Behavior Declines in US” or USA Today’s article “More Americans practice safe sex, CDC Reports”

SIC’s Stateside World AIDS Day in Review

Posted by on Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 3:12 pm

As you can see from other posts, SIC around the world was very busy! In addition to our events in Tanzania and Southhampton, check out what we’ve been doing Stateside…

Cornell’s SIC team hosted a bake sale.

WAD at Cornell

Our lovely interns Kelly, Meghan, and Chloe manning the table

While at University of Arizona, SIC volunteers hosted an event complete with HIV testing

WAD at the University of Arizona

SIC volunteers Michael & Karlie working it for the camera!

U of A HIV Testing

U of A HIV Testing

Our Boston University SICers got involved on campus too!

Chloe tabling for WAD at Boston University

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More in SIC/ WAD in the news:

SIC’s World AIDS Day dance party event was mentioned in the Tuscon Weekly put on by our very own Jeremy Isajiw from VP 4. HUGE congratulations on the successful event!!

This New York Times article “Foreign Aid is Not a Rathole” by Ezekial Emanuel is especially relevant to our cause.  This past WAD, we have proof foreign assistance funds are making a difference.  Despite foreign aids bad reputation as a “rathole” or waste of resources/ money, we have clear proof that the measures taken by the United States and other countries to fight HIV, and other preventable diseases like malaria and tuberculosis, are working. World AIDS Day this past year was a benchmark celebration boasting the value of foreign aid and efforts.

Can't stop grinning about our WAD success!


World AIDS Day Review-Tanzania

Posted by on Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 2:31 am

Support for International Change (SIC) volunteers and teaching partners huddled around a dala dala, decorating the mini bus with SIC banners, balloons, and ribbons. Behind it a goat, adorned with crown and cape, tugged restlessly at its leash, deathly uncomfortable with the attention it was receiving. With the volunteers’ cameras recording their progress, SIC prepared for the parade that they had been planning since their arrival in the village. While curious villagers, amused by these preparations, lined the road, SIC waited patiently for the rest of the parade to arrive. Soon enough, a procession of dala dalas and government cars began to arrive from Arusha. As the vehicles came to a stop, the passengers, beating their drums and singing, began to exit the busses. With their arrival, SIC’s World AIDS Day  (WAD) celebration had finally arrived in Nduruma.

Nearly 100 people walked, dala dalas drove, goats kicked.  Eight performance group marched to the event center where their dances and dramas attracted countless people. Intrigued by the drumming and singing coming down their normally quiet road, villagers filed out of their houses and began to follow the procession to the testing tents. Government leaders made inspiring speeches and SIC volunteers organized sack and chicken races.  Most importantly, villagers had the opportunity to learn about HIV.  It was a huge success.  Over 200 members of Nduruma learned their status, many having been convinced to test by American volunteers with only 3 months of Swahili and a lot of hand gestures.

This year, World AIDS Days was a great collaboration between SIC and the Tanzanian government.  And this time, the celebration was in the village.  Much like the government efforts in fighting HIV, past WAD events have focused in the city of Arusha.  Good planning (and good fortune) meant that this year SIC was no longer alone in the rural communities on this important occasion.  Thanks to an early conversation between Mama Kibwana, Arusha Rural Council HIV/AIDS coordinator and SIC Board Member, SIC Coordinator Jeremy Isajiw and SIC Program Officer Johnson Gabriel about WAD, the Arusha Rural government met us in the village.  Mama Kibwana led the Tanzanian government as they worked side by side with SIC, in the dusty village of Nduruma.

World AIDS Day 2011: More Reasons Than Ever Before to Celebrate

Posted by on Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 6:52 pm

December 1 is World AIDS Day (WAD), an official worldwide celebration of how far we’ve come with HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, & an acknowledgement of how far we still have to go in our fight.  This year’s World AIDS Day is especially profound; it’s been a game changing year for the AIDS fight.

The 2011 UNAIDS World AIDS Day report, released December 1, 2011, & the 2010 UNAIDS Global Report, released November 21, 2011, give us more reason to celebrate this World AIDS day. The 2010 Global Report proudly proclaims that numbers of new infections are stabilizing. This means our efforts, both preventative and treatment based, are working effectively. According to the WAD Report, 2011 proved to be a benchmark year for new bio medical breakthroughs, political leadership and warranted noticeable results.

The 2011 WAD report tell us that 50% of people eligible for antiretroviral therapy are now receiving treatment, a change SIC works directly to support through our programs. The number of HIV infections have decreased 21% since 1997, while AIDS-related deaths have been reduced by 21% since 2005. The Global Report tells us 33.3 million people are infected and approximately 5 million are now being treated.  The  Global Report also highlights the tangibility of eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission completely. New treatment options have adverted an estimated 2.5 million AIDS related deaths since 1995. The numbers in the Global Report prove that countries advocating prevention through awareness campaigns and anti-stigma movements have seen a notable decrease in new HIV infections. Additionally, new investment strategies have proved particularly effective. In the 2011 WAD report, Michael Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director, comments “The investment framework is community driven not commodity driven. It puts people at the centre of the approach, not the virus.” A philosophy SIC couldn’t agree more with.

While there are still many challenges  to eradicating the virus completely, the 2010 report shows us enormous progress in the fight, while the breakthroughs made in 2011 have been unprecedented. These advancements will surely boost morale of HIV activists and patients everywhere and set the stage to propel full speed ahead into 2012, committing even further to continue the fight.

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Read the official UNAIDS World AIDS Day press release HERE

Read the official 2011 UNAIDS World AIDS Day report HERE

Read the official 2010 UNAIDS Global report HERE

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SIC proudly supports World AIDS Day all across the world.

Here’s how some of our collegiate supporters are participating:

Cornell SIC-ers are hosting a bake sale
Stanford is tabling in their student union and partnering with FaceAIDS, another student organization on campus
University of Arizona’s SIC-ers are holding an event on campus
Our Harvard program is hosting an event and raising awareness for the $12 for ’12 Campaign
Last but not least, our in-country volunteer program (VP4) is hosting a large scale event in Arusha

Updates and pictures from these events are coming soon!

VP4 2010’s WAD March in Babati Town

VP4 2010 gathers with some of the villagers who participated in the "Tuko Pamoja" march

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$12 for '12 Campaign

If you’d like to give back this World AIDS Day, please see our latest $12 for ’12 campaign by clicking here.
This holiday season we’re asking SIC alumni and friends to donate $12 for 2012. Be a part of SIC’s commitment to provide comprehensive HIV/AIDS services in our partner communities. Help us make 2012 another benchmark year in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.

Behavioral vs. Biomedical Campaigns: Which is more effective in the fight against HIV/AIDS?

Posted by on Sunday, November 27, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Despite endless awareness campaigns, medical breakthroughs, and increased understanding of what causes HIV & how to prevent it, the pandemic isn’t showing any signs of stopping. Many, including Dr. Perry Haltkis, PhD & author of “The AIDS Generation”, ask why? Why aren’t the awareness campaigns and HIV prevention methods working? Why aren’t the proven medical breakthroughs working? It’s an entirely preventable disease, so why can’t we stop it it?

In an article published in Chelsea Now, Dr. Haltkis argues that behavioral change programs aren’t actually as effective as we’d like to think they are.  Dr. Haltkis makes the point “For me, these interventions are like a topical ointment or a Band-Aid used to treat a deep skin infection — when what is really needed is a powerful oral antibiotic.” Biomedical interventions, as opposed to behavioral ones, might be more effective in terms of preventing the virus.

Three in particular have proven effective in lowering the risk. The CAPRISA trial proves the effectiveness of Tenofovir gel, also known as Truvada, an HIV antiviral medication gel that reduces risk in women, while the iPrEx trial reveals the efficacy of Tenofovir or Truvada pill in preventing the virus in gay men.  HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 052 study has found treating those already HIV + with antiviral treatments can reduce transmission to their partners.  Despite these incredible findings, transmission still occurs regularly. So again, we ask the question – we have the means for prevention, why isn’t it working?

First and foremost, the drugs are still in trial phases & more time is needed to truly examine the results. In an article published in the New York Times on November 25th (after Dr. Haltkis published his article), the microbicide anti HIV gel trial, the follow up to the CAPRISA trial, was cancelled because it wasn’t effectively preventing HIV transmission in women. These results are especially disappointing because the gel seemed to be working in the previous CAPRISA trial. Apparently, the Truvada pill trial was also cancelled in September because of similar results. Exactly why these seemed to suddenly stop working is still being determined. One hypothesis was the dosage frequency, something Dr. Haltkis mentions in his article as well.

As with most medications that require specifically timed daily dosages, such as birth control, there will always be instances of extenuating circumstance so the medicine isn’t received at the required time thus causing its efficacy to decrease – we are human after all. Just as many people forget their vitamins every day, the same goes for these treatments but the effect of this could mean a person’s life.

Dr. Haltkis concludes that neither behavioral or biomedical interventions are foolproof, both have their flaws and need further time, funding, and research to truly understand their benefits and efficacy. For now, we move forward armed with both awareness campaigns and medical breakthroughs. While neither has the power to completely stop the virus, there is still proven benefit to having both. In a recent study released by the UNAIDS report, numbers are stabilizing. Hopefully someday, and someday soon, the numbers will show a decrease in HIV infections.

While we still ask why, we focus on what we can actually do, by asking how can we help, with both prevention methods and those already infected.

Read Dr. Haltkis’  full article here

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Faster Condom to Prevent HIV

Posted by on Monday, October 24, 2011 at 10:25 am

Condoms are proven effective in preventing the spread of HIV when used correctly and consistently. So why aren’t more people using them? A common complaint is the frustration of fumbling to put the condom on and killing the mood. This “condom tango” causes anxiety for both the man trying to apply the condom and his partner. Even though the condom can protect your health, and even save your life, often times this excuse is enough to forgo the condom and take the risk – a mindset the HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns at SIC are working to change. Willem van Renbug, a South African inventor, came up with a brilliant idea: the Pronto Condom. A quick, easy to apply condom. No fumbling, no anxiety – just a quickly applied condom. In fact, the Pronto condom claims to go from “package to shaft in less than three seconds.” Not much to complain about there.

Not Convinced?

Watch this video and see for yourself

SIC learned about the Pronto condom through GOOD,  a collaboration of individuals, businesses, and nonprofits pushing the world forward
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Contraceptive Used in Africa May Double Risk of HIV

Posted by on Monday, October 10, 2011 at 6:21 pm

The New York Times reports that  a popular contraceptive used in Africa is doubling the risk of HIV in both men and women. The horomone in injectable contraceptions, or a shot every three months, is one of the most popular, practical, and effective contraceptive methods in sub-saharan Africa.

Research suggests that the hormone progestin allows for faster replication of the HIV virus. There are some studies suggesting the injectable hormone also increases the risk in transmission from women to men.

Isobel Coleman, director of the women and foreign policy porgram at the Council on Foreign Relations “the best contraception today is injectable hormonal contraception because you don’t need a doctor, it’s long-lasting, it enables women to control timing and spacing of birth without a lot of fuss and travel”.  Coleman also comments, “If it is now proven that these contraceptions are helping spread the AIDS epidemic, we have a major health crisis on our hands.”

Many health officials heistate in advising away from the shot since it is an effective contraceptive and pregnacy can also pose many health issues, in addition to an increased risk of HIV infection. Dr. Ludo Lavreys, an epidemiologist who led one of the first studies to link injectable contraceptives to increased HIV risk, advised “Before you stop  recommending injectables you have to offer them something else.”

Researchers suggest greater emphasis on condom use, in addition to the injectables, until another solution is available.

To read the full article, please click here

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UN urges more funds for early HIV treatment

Posted by on Friday, June 17, 2011 at 4:10 pm

The BBC reports:

The UN Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAids) has called for increased funding for the early treatment of people with HIV.

The head of the agency, Michael Sidibe, said a new study showed it could reduce the risk of HIV transmission by 96%.

He said the challenge was to expand access to drugs, and deal with social factors which stigmatise the disease.

On Thursday, a UN report said there had been a nearly 25% decline in new HIV infections and a reduction in Aids-related deaths during the past decade.

It was published ahead of the 30th anniversary on Sunday of the first official report on Aids by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The General Assembly is to meet at UN headquarters to discuss the epidemic next week, with 20 world leaders and more than 100 ministers expected to attend.

An estimated 34 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2010 and nearly 30 million have died from Aids-related causes since 1981, the report said.

To read the full article, please click here.

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