AIDS 2012

Task Sharing, Not Task Shifting: Team Approach Is Best Bet for HIV Care

This post was originally published on the IntraHealth International blog.

By developing a more rational division of labor among HIV/AIDS health workers in developing countries, we can go a long way in “Overcoming the Last Barrier to Universal Access,” and nurses have a significant role to play in that effort.

That was the ambitious premise and title of a presentation by Dr. Kate Tulenko, senior director for health systems innovation for IntraHealth International (and CapacityPlus deputy director for clinical services and service delivery strengthening), at a satellite session I attended at the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC. Read more »

The Human Side of HIV/AIDS

Carie MuntiferingIn the closing ceremony of the International AIDS Conference last week, Nancy Pelosi quoted George Bernard Shaw stating, “It is the mark of a truly intelligent person to be moved by statistics.” Pelosi went on to say that she believes everyone in the room was moved throughout the week by statistics but that we were also moved by stories. I couldn’t agree more.

I had never attended the International AIDS Conference before this year but I have been to many other conferences and I am used to attending sessions that describe public health issues in terms of multivariate analyses and odds ratios. Don’t get me wrong, as a researcher by training I get very excited by p-values less than 0.05, but to keep my interest I also need to feel connected, inspired, and guided by the human side of public health. This is exactly what the International AIDS Conference delivered. Presentations ranged from statistically savvy to emotionally charged and nearly every session included a mix of researchers, program implementers, activists, community leaders, and civil society members, creating a holistic view of HIV/AIDS and the challenges we must overcome if we are going to turn the tide. Read more »

Let’s Move People

I woke up on my second day at the International AIDS Conference wanting to be moved. Not that the opening plenary speeches I attended the day before were not inspiring, but I was left wanting a more personal experience or connection. I know I’m not alone.

That day I found myself in front of a piece of art outside the main session room, a see-through column lined with small dolls. I leaned in to examine the artful beadwork on the dolls, very similar but intricately different. Orphan Tower contains 634 dolls made by local bead workers in a rural village in South Africa. Each doll represents one child living in the village whose parents died from AIDS. According to the placard, there are currently over 3.7 million AIDS orphans in South Africa alone. To represent all of them, there would need to be 5,835 of these towers. I’m left wondering who will care for these children, if they will also develop AIDS, and, if so, whether will they receive treatment. I’m also aware that these dolls could represent millions of children all over Africa, and all over the world. Read more »

Frontline Health Workers Are the Key Link to Turning the Tide on HIV

Rachel DeussomOn Tuesday’s plenary session at the International AIDS Conference, Phil Wilson of the Black AIDS Institute talked about the need for an “army of patient navigators,” people who provide the critical connection between HIV-affected individuals and life-saving health and social services.

As a Peace Corps volunteer working in Northern Cameroon, I came to know a timid collection of youth who believed that their HIV diagnosis was a death sentence. In addition to facing the stigma surrounding HIV, they must overcome the burdens of poverty, limited literacy, and in most cases being a woman in a conservatively Muslim society. 

Under the shade of a neem tree, they questioned the possibility of their dreams. How long could they live? Should they invest in going to school? Could they ever hope to have a family someday? Read more »

The Supply Chain Workforce: Key for Improving Response to HIV/AIDS

Abbie HeffelfingerIt was my intention to focus on attending events related to health workforce and supply chain management while at my first International AIDS Conference. However, with a conference program the size of a phone book, I quickly became overwhelmed and selected the first event on the list: “Improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the HIV response.” With such a broad topic, I expected the discussion could extend in a multitude of directions and I figured it would be a well-rounded first session.

Senators John Kerry and Lindsey Graham opened the session. Graham emphasized the need to remain focused on fighting the AIDS pandemic despite budget challenges in the US government. A recent minister of health from Lesotho, M. Ramatlapeng, guided the conversation toward the need to prioritize investment for impact. And when it came time for Bill Gates to share his view on the means by which to create a world without AIDS, he was quick to emphasize that we have a long way before that dream will become reality. He explained that while he sees a vaccine as the ultimate solution, it should not distract from other efforts. It remains essential to commit additional money toward research for new prevention tools and better systems of delivery. Read more »

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