The Silent Status of HIV Positive Women in the Doctor’s Office

Several recent studies have indicated many HIV positive women never discuss issues concerning their HIV status. More specifically, these women rarely discuss the options and practices affiliated with HIV management during pregnancy.  This often occurs because clinicians assume patient inquiries are covered by other professionals or they are not fully comfortable discussing these matters with women.

Certain facts should be noted on women who are found positive with HIV; not only do they suffer higher rates of depression than men who are HIV positive, but the infection as well as the antiretroviral therapy affect women differently than their gender counterparts. To add, rates of mother-to-child transmission are now less than two percent in the US when using medication coupled with caesarean sections and avoidance of breastfeeding. More women may consider pregnancy and childbirth with such encouraging statistics.

One of the few studies that have analyzed the gender specific health concerns of HIV positive women surveyed 700 from the US in order to better understand the lack of communication and discussion between these women and their personal clinicians. The conclusions from the survey shed light on this particular subject matter: Read More

Widow Cleansing and Widow Inheritance – Harmful Cultural Practices Stopping PMTCT

Today, the world is well aware of the facts and figures that surround the HIV/AIDS epidemic. While the level of realization might vary from society to society, it would be very hard to find any village that does not have the most rudimentary knowledge about the disease. There is a global mobilization against it and to some extent there are major victories to date. But, one aspect of the disease is only recently getting the attention it requires: the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV/AIDS, and specifically, the relation it has with the harmful cultural or traditional practices that are prevalent in almost all of the countries that are hardest-hit by the disease.

If we were to take a look at the countries that had, or still have, the highest infection rates, it would be abundantly clear that there is a prevalence of harmful traditions that are bestowed upon the girls and women of these countries. It would also be clear that there is a relationship between these traditions and the eventual infection of children born to HIV-positive women.

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Empowering Women and Their Participation in the Fight against HV/AIDS

The month of March is special because it is the month when we celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD). It is the day when we all express our respect, appreciation and admiration for the women from all parts of the world. The United Nations decides on what theme the IWD will be focusing on, and this year it was “Empower Women – End Hunger and Poverty”.

Looking at the first part of the slogan, that is “Empower Women”, we find that a lot of the problems that we are facing in the world today could be solved by enforcing these two words. While empowering the women of the world and enabling them to be the main breadwinners of their homes will definitely be the tool to end hunger and poverty, it can also be the means by which mankind can defeat diseases that have been ravaging us for decades, a good example being HIV/AIDS.

As we all know, the most effective tool that has been found to combat this disease is awareness. For the better part of the last few decades, mankind has been dying from sheer lack of information on the disease. And even when it was discovered that people’s lives could be saved by simply informing them about the disease and its transmission methods, the number of new infections still kept rising. Read More

HIV in Indonesia: Women and Girls Persevere through Challenging Conditions

It is most often [girls] who are removed first.  This is both to save resources spent on schooling, as well as utilize the girl child for labour – Clifton Cortez, health and development practice leader at UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Centre.

The number of reported HIV cases in Indonesia has more than tripled in these past few years and caused a decrease in productivity while trapping affected families in a life of daunting poverty. Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam were all used for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) report – all countries suffered the same results that affect HIV-affected households, which include significant drops in income, savings, assets, and ability to buy protein-rich food. The report shows the difference between families that are free of HIV, as the households that are HIV-affected were found to be more than 38% more likely to live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 for each person per day – and over a quarter of these households reported having to sell the already scarce personal belongings in order to foot the bill for medical costs.

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Gauging the Effectiveness of Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT)

Over the years, especially in the past ten or so, the world has been able to gain a foothold in the fight against mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV/AIDS. In some countries, the ones worst hit by the epidemic, results have shown that the gloomy clouds that were once prevalent have begun to retreat as the disease is slowly but surely being defeated.

One way that was used to combat this disease was by making sure that children born to an HIV positive mother were not infected too. By implementing prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) methods, the rates of MTCT can be reduced. This comes from the results of many trials that have been done in various countries all over the world.

But, the question may be asked as to whether it really is true that the PMTCT regimen is as effective as it said to be. Well, one way that the effectiveness of the whole PMTCT campaign can be measured is by using a measuring method known as ‘PMTCT Cascade’1. The main principle behind this method is measuring the number of HIV positive mother and child pairs in a population that receives PMTCT intervention.  The data from all the facilities that provide the PMTCT services is collected and analyzed. The data is then divided into 7 areas. Read More

Men: A New Force in the Fight Against Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV

It might sound a little out of sync, but the active participation of men in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS has been found to produce amazing results. A study done in Kenya has shown that if men are involved in the reproductive health with their partners, vertical transmission of HIV and the infant mortality that follows can be reduced by up to 40%1. How this is so can only be understood by considering the fact that in Africa, the male partner is considered to be the head of the family and has absolute say on everything that concerns his family, including matters of sexual reproduction.

Many men feel that as long as they are married having to get tested for HIV is either totally useless, or an insult towards their spouses, and hence themselves, because it implies that the woman has loose morals. They therefore hesitate, if not outright refuse, to entertain any questions of their wives going in to have an HIV test. The importance of this decision occurs when we consider the fact that in order for a mother to prevent the transmission of the disease to her child, she needs to be diagnosed early enough to start the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) regimen. Read More

HIV/AIDS – Coming to a Corporate Boardroom near You

The scariest part of an epidemic is that it can easily cripple the economy of a country. The impact of an epidemic disease affects each and every single citizen, whether healthy or infected. This makes it very important that society, as one, should stand up and fight the disease. If not, like water down a drain, it slowly spreads to touch everyone in the society as it comes down.

But the fear that we feel should not be of the type that is so deep-seated that it leaves us debilitated. On the contrary, now is the time where everyone that is part of the society must roll up their sleeves and try to bring a change. This is even truer in the case of big businesses, both local and multinational companies, if they actually want to continue staying in business. Today, most of the people living with HIV/AIDS are in the 25 to 45 age group. These people are at the age where they are most productive and thus vital for the upward mobility and stimulation of a country’s economy. When they become unable to work due to complications caused by the disease, it makes it impossible for businesses to find the workforce needed to power their development. Read More

The 16th International Conference on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (ICASA) and PMTCT

Recently, World HIV/AIDS day was commemorated in Ethiopia with workshops for the people with free HIV tests. But what was even more notable was that Addis Ababa was the host for the 16th International Conference on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (ICASA). ICASA is a forum that was established with the sole intent of having Africans learning from one another and to have the issues that needed to be addressed in the fight against HIV/AIDS addressed by Africans themselves. So far, it has allowed for 15 conferences to be held all over the continent where leaders and communities have been able to keep the fight against the disease going strong.

Notably present at the conference’s inauguration, held at the Millennium Exhibition Hall, were ex-president of the United States – George W. Bush and his family, ex-president of Botswana – Festus Mogae, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia- Meles Zenawi, Dr. Michel Sidibe – UNAIDS Executive Director and other leaders of societies and religious heads as well as other stakeholders in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.


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Vitalwave Supports World AIDS Day – Act Aware!

Today is World AIDS Day, an opportunity for people across the globe to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In the more than 30 years since HIV first emerged, more than 30 million people have succumbed to the disease. Amazing progress has since been made. Today, millions of people now have access to antiretroviral medication and the HIV infection rate in children is steadily on the decline.

On World AIDS Day, it is important to highlight one of the key issues impeding the fight against HIV/AIDS – drug resistance. This is the ability of HIV to thrive against the effects and efforts of an antiretroviral drug that is administered to prevent its replication. Some of the various factors that contribute towards treatment failure and HIV drug resistance include lack of knowledge among patients and healthcare staff, lack of strict adherence to treatment regimens, drug stock-outs, as well as sub-par patient monitoring mechanisms.

Today, it is important to celebrate the milestones organizations such as the WHO have achieved in the prevention and assessment of HIV Drug Resistance. The Organization has established the HIVResNet which is a global network of more than 50 institutions, labs, and experts aimed to support capacity building, surveillance, and data analysis.  It was found that access to ART in low and middle income countries have increased a notable amount; showing more than 6 million people receiving ART at the end of 2010 in comparison to a dismal 400,000 people having access to ART in these countries at the end of 2003. WHO has provided countries with “Early Warning Indicators” compiled from medical and pharmacy records that monitor the functioning of ART sites and mitigate chances of drug resistance. Read More

Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) and the Contraceptive Pill

Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV/AIDS is the process of making sure that a child born to an HIV positive mother isn’t born with the disease too. And if most people in Sub-Saharan Africa were to be asked how it can be prevented, they would more likely than not answer that prevention is better than the cure – the mother should try to not get pregnant in the first place. While there are many moral issues that could be brought against this idea, some mothers would agree that they too thought so and were using contraceptives to prevent the pregnancy from happening.

And yet, according to a study, it has been found that taking contraceptive pills has actually been the linked to an increase risk of HIV infection among women of reproductive age1. In Africa, where HIV/AIDS is the most prevalent, population control programs have been in place for over three decades in which time women were encouraged to use oral contraceptive pills and hormonal injection contraceptives like Depo-Provera. Research has shown that this has been found to increase not only a woman’s risk of transmitting the disease, but also that of being infected. This has come as quite a shock to the estimated 140 million users of hormonal contraceptives worldwide. Read More

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