Category: Stigmatisation & Discrimination

Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV: Development of Infant Drug Resistance

In September of 2000, the General Assembly of the United Nations held the Millennium Summit to adopt an “Earth Charter” and a “Declaration” that would lead to global governance.  The summit focused on the role of the United Nations in the 21st century; in particular, the UN’s role in pulling over one billion people out of extreme poverty, halting the pandemic of HIV/AIDS and protecting the global environment.  With 150 heads of state in attendance, it was the largest gathering of world leaders in history as of 2000; the outcome of this summit was eight international development objectives known as the UN Millennium Goals.  Two of these goals expressed an intention by the year 2015 to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS1 and to reduce by 66% the infant mortality rate 2.

Using a class of pharmaceutical drugs known as anti-retrovirals (ARVs), great strides have been made toward achieving these UN Millennium Goals.  However, each year approximately 300,000 infants still contract HIV/AIDS 3.  Almost all of these HIV+ infants are infected through mother-to-child transmission, and in the absence of treatment,  half will die before the age of two.  Using ARV therapy, the total rate of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) can be reduced to between two and five percent (without treatment, rates are between 20-45%) 4.   Read More

Living with HIV/AIDS – A Story From Ethiopia

"It is the hope that people gave me by befriending me, accepting me and letting me know, with kind words, that I too could be happy"

Looking at Sarah* today, it would be hard to imagine that she is a person living with HIV/AIDS. Her lively, bubbly outlook belies the stigmatization that most of the people living with HIV have to endure day after day. The healthy look that she now exudes belies the fear that used to come when people saw her rapid loss of weight.

People tended to talk when they saw someone lose weight drastically. Before the disease was named ‘HIV/AIDS’ by western medicine, Africa had different names that were usually variations of the rapid weight lose that ensued once patients were infected. For example, in Uganda it was called ‘Slim Disease’ and in Ethiopia it was ‘Amenminé’ (Amharic for ‘that which shrivels’). Read More

HIV: Death by Stigma

A number of publications are suggesting that at least 25% of those living with HIV/AIDS are unaware that they are infected. In the Third World, the decision to avoid confirmation is primarily driven by the fear of being abandoned or beaten. Lack of any cure or consistent health care further diminishes incentive to seek out diagnosis. Ostracization and violence against women with HIV/AIDS are commonplace. In the largely patriarchal societies, the generally accepted thinking is that women are to blame for spread of infection. Thus, with little recourse against her husband, an infected wife lacks the incentive to draw any attention to herself. Read More

Introduction to the Vitalwave Project

A few years ago, I had the very great pleasure to meet an incredible young woman named Anne Cohen from Montreal. My first exposure to her, actually, was through her article. This writing struck me in a very important way and became a turning point for me. When I read it, I was filled with a huge wave of optimism and a personal resolve to finally move forward with my long time dream of taking our highly effective antimicrobial technology and turning it into a product for the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV/AIDs. Read More

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