XIX International AIDS Conference – Day 2

GenericScott McGill, Senior Advisor, HIV/AIDS

Washington, DC

July 24, 2012


Every two years experts, governments, activists, and affected community representatives meet to take stock of the global AIDS response – these conferences are often known for particular breakthroughs or for global commitments and other landmarks.DSC00393  The 2012 International AIDS Conference will be known as the meeting that ambitiously committed to ‘The Beginning of the End of AIDS!’

Over the past two years, a consensus has developed that anti-retroviral treatment (known as “ART”) is also a prevention strategy. New technologies show promising results. These include using HIV treatment drugs with higher risk individuals to prevent the spread of HIV infection. While these are exciting innovations, we also need to scale up other prevention strategies, and combine those with other medical approaches to achieve the greatest impact on slowing and ultimately reversing this epidemic.

Even if a vaccine or cure for HIV infections is found tomorrow, there is still the need for prevention as well as strengthening of healthcare systems.

Save the Children has prioritized prevention of HIV transmission among youth, especially those who are vulnerable or most-at-risk for HIV transmission. 

At the conference workshop “Leading the Way in Asia – Mapping, Mobilizing and Building Capacity in Young Key Affected Populations” we took part in discussions led by youth with many stakeholders and partners which resulted in a consensus on a number of important issues:

  • More information is needed to identify the youth most affected by HIV & AIDS
  • Policies and laws need to support HIV programming and not block them
  • Services need to be youth friendly
  • The meaningful engagement of young people is critical in developing the next generation of young leaders for the AIDS response and beyond.

IMG_8398Two young delegates from the Philippines, Jeffry and Philip, said, “young people also need to be seen as more than HIV risks – they need other support and services that would help them avoid being in situations which make them more vulnerable including safe housing, education, other health and support services, legal protection and opportunities to make a living and contribute to their communities’.

Over the last two days Save the Children has been involved in many activities – including presentations on the challenges and legal barriers in providing prevention services to those selling sex in Bangladesh, Vietnam and Papua New Guinea, and school based programs for children and youth in Georgia. Simon - FSW decriminalization

There are a number of questions and challenges posed to us as a child-focused agency – how do new technologies and innovations fit in our approaches? How do we address the multiple needs of younger key affected populations beyond solely their HIV risks and address the factors that make them more vulnerable?  How do we not lose focus on the behavioral and social issues? How can we better understand and access those youth who are hidden, ignored, and misunderstood?

XIX International AIDS Conference – Day 1

Ronnie lovichRonnie Lovich (Senior Advisor HIV/AIDS) and Alice Fay

Washington DC

July 23, 2012


We come together at the 2012 International AIDS Conference with 20,000 colleagues, implementers, activists, ready to listen, and share our experiences of what works. As we gather for this week of meetings, we eagerly await news of scientific advances, global successes, and evidence of best practice and effective response. We also need to keep the fire that moves so many to respond to the HIV and AIDS pandemic burning. On this first day, we have not been disappointed.

After 30 years of responding, we can now look at ‘hyper-endemic’ countries such as Zambia and for the first time say that we have more people being treated than being diagnosed with new infections. And it is possible to say that adhering to treatment could possibly mean living a long life. But we have a new conviction and a new way of looking at treatment – treatment must be viewed as prevention.

Nowhere is this truer than in the case of ending parent to child transmission. The faster we can get a mother on treatment, the sooner we can reduce the risk of ransmission to her baby.

Some compelling facts:

  • In 2011, 330,000 children were born with HIV; a decade ago that number was 600,000. Now to prevent mother to child transmission there is “Option B+” which provides full treatment during pregnancy and continues for life. We have an unprecedented opportunity with the new B+ therapy, which is simple and can be started in the antenatal clinic setting, and demonstrates that the best treatment is prevention.
  • Under the Global Plan to end pediatric AIDS, a goal has been set for reducing transmission to , and treatment rates of 90% to keep mothers alive. However, as a number of our colleagues have illustrated, preventing mother to child transmission is a cascade of services….but the cascade can be imperfect. We may start off with good antenatal coverage but few receive the continued support they need. At each step ofintervention, we lose more women and their infants, and too few infants are tested soon enough. 

There is another missing piece that requires our attention. The majority of youth who are living with HIV do not yet know their HIV status. There has been a lot said about adolescent sexual and reproductive health, and the need to take into account the needs of younger people, who are so often excluded from adult programs including preventing mother to child transmission. We met a young Ugandan woman living with HIV; she gets her Anti RetroviralTreatment and other HIV related services from a clinic for people over 15. She said that since the clinic has opened, people her age feel much more comfortable accessing services. She also expressed her frustration that there is little
representation of the voices of young people living with HIV.

Which is why sharing our exhibition space with our young colleagues from YouthLead is so special. These inspiring individuals will be able to share their experiences living with HIV, their strategies for
addressing the stigma and helping others as peer educators.

More to come tomorrow…

It’s all about where you were born…..and to whom!

This past week and a half was a busy one—I found myself in Washington, DC; Delhi, India; and Copenhagen, Denmark. In addition to spending lots of hours on planes and

sleeping in airports, these vastly different places drove home for me the immense divide between kids’ lives in countries around the world. These differences are rooted in the rate of child survival and the striking disparity in their opportunity for a productive and happy life.

 

In 2010, nearly two million Indian children never had a chance. They died from easily preventable causes before they were five years old—things like pneumonia, prematurity and complications at birth that could have been prevented, and even diarrhea, which claims the lives of tens of thousands of Indian kids every year. This represents the death of 63 kids for every 1,000 born in India in 2010. In contrast, fewer than a thousand children under five died that same year in Denmark, where there are 64,000 annual births—making it one of the highest-ranking countries for child survival. Surprisingly, far more kids died in the US before they made it to 5—32,000 in 2010 or 8 children for every 1,000 born. And we lose most children in the US as babies: 57% of child deaths occur before they are even a month old.

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Learning Starts Before School

Early childhood – from birth to age 8 – is the most critical time of growth and learning in a child’s life. Yet it seems more of the world’s focus is on helping children learn after they enter the classroom. That’s why it was great to see two major events this week highlighting the benefits of early childhood development and education.

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Where’s Carolyn?

Keep track of me as I log miles traveling around the world advocating for children. Whether I’m meeting with world leaders or wonderful girls and boys, you can see my calendar and get the details on the daily life

Pumpkins and Princes

Deergh  Deergha Narayan Shrestha, Senior Program Coordinator for Education, Save the Children Nepal

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kathmandu, Nepal


Save the Children's Literacy Boost program aims to support young readers through fun activities. It is already underway in more than 10 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. As part of National Children's Book Week (May 2 to 7), we asked a few children enrolled in Literacy Boost to tell us about their favorite books. Here is what Himal, age 8, from Nepal told to Save the Children's Deergha Shrestha:

My favorite story is called "The Tale of Master Pumpkin."  Most of the kids from school and the village like it too. I really love the pictures, like the one where Pharsi walks through the jungle.  

In the story, Pharsi Badahu, or Pumpkin, is the son of poor Farsi parents. Right after he was born, they took one look at his ugly face and kicked him out of their home. Pharsi walked away and into the jungle.

Himal

One day on his journey, he played a game to marry a princess and he won! He married the beautiful princess. She wasn't happy with him but she had to accept him anyway.

After several days, both of them came home. They saw a beautiful flower in a tall tree. Pharshia Bahadu climbed up the tree to pick the flower, but he fell down and broke into pieces.

He looked like a smashed pumpkin. The princess got scared. And then a handsome prince arose from the pumpkin. They went home and lived happily ever after. I always like getting to the end when the pumpkin turns into a handsome prince.

 

Celebrate Reading: National Children’s Book Week

ARON H Aron Holewinski, Media and Communications Intern, and English literature student at Williams College (MA) 

Tueday, April 26, 2011

Westport, CT


Next week is National Children’s Book Week.  A time to celebrate those cherished and tattered books that many of us can recite by heart.

Reading has always been a part of my life.  As a kid, I eagerly awaited for my mom or grandmother to read me a book at bedtime. One of my favorites was “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” about a clever little mouse who asks a boy for a cookie and then keeps asking him for more things.

I remember stories of gallant knights and Western cowboys, buried treasure and Arabian nights. I loved closing my eyes and letting my imagination drift. Later, I seldom ventured without a book. On long car rides in the back seat, or during summer vacations by the pool – I always had a book at hand, and a story to get back to.

Ultimately, fiction is the stuff of life. We learn about each other and the ways we live through reading.

ARON on books

Given my own passion for reading, I am distressed to think that so many children cannot read for themselves. Reading is a fundamental skill that too many children go without.  And, when you don’t know how to read or write, words turn into a jumble of symbols. 

But, that’s where Save the Children’s Literacy Boost program comes in.  It’s a much-needed program to help young kids in grades one to four develop their language and reading skills both inside and outside the classroom. It works by engaging everyone in the community – from teachers, parents and even older children – to help kids learn through simple actions like reading aloud with a child.  

Kids in 10 countries in Africa and Asia are currently enrolled in the program, and, we’re seeing impressive preliminary results. Kids are reading more words per minute, they have a better understanding of what they’re reading and they are excited to showcase their reading skills with others.  
There’s no doubt that my family’s persistent reading aloud, and their steady encouragement to read influenced me.   

I hope other kids get to share that joy, too, so that when they open a book, letters will become words. And words will become stories. And characters will spring to life, opening up a whole new world to them.

Here are some easy ways you can celebrate reading and National Children’s Book Week: 

  1. Read to a child today. 
  2. Share your favorite children’s book in the comments section below. 
  3. Provide picture books for preschoolers in Afghanistan with an $80 donation.