According to the Communications Initiative, an exhibition in Vietnam has helped changed public perceptions of HIV/AIDS and the people it affects. The Center for Community Health Research and Development and the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi, with Columbia University, organised a museum exhibition on HIV/AIDS through paintings, sculptures, photographs, digital media and interactive performance. The purpose was to generate public discussion and debate and reduce stigma against people with HIV/AIDS.
Displaying personal belongings, pictures, and memories donated by people living with HIV/AIDS, the exhibition depicted the everyday lives of infected people and their families and traced changing perceptions about the epidemic. HIV/AIDS was once considered a social evil in Vietnam with media depicting infected people with negative images. Government and international organizations have helped to change this perception through dissemination of accurate information.
Another initiative in Asia that helped change perceptions and reduce stigma around HIV/AIDS was the Positive Lives photography project, founded by Network Photographers and the Terence Higgins Trust, supported by the Levi Strauss Foundation*. By showing the everyday lives of people living with HIV/AIDS to those who don’t have access, Positive Lives helped to normalise HIV/AIDS in the community. The key to success with exhibitions is to ensure materials are made available to a broad audience, including through online access, by touring to numerous locations and translation into local languages.
*Nicholas Goodwin used to manage the Levi Strauss Foundation support for the Positive Lives project in Asia.
Facing an increasing population and high levels of maternal mortality, Viet Nam has announced that December 2011 will be a national month of population planning. During the month, various activities and forums will be held nationwide to increase awareness of population planning activities, especially in remote areas. In November, the Prime Minister of Viet Nam has approved the national strategic population plan and the reproductive health development plan for 2011-20. Viet Nam hopes to lower the population growth rate to around 1% from the current 1.2%. The aim is to reduce the maternal mortality rate due to pregnancy-related problems to 58.3/100,000 babies by 2015 and below 52/100,000 in 2020.
In addition, the government has stated that efforts must be made to lower the death rate of children under 5 from drowning. The target is 19.3% in 2015 and below 16% in 2020. The plan also includes improving the reproductive health of migrants, people with disabilities, HIV-infected individuals, ethnic minorities and victims of domestic violence and natural disasters. There appears to be no mention of Viet Nam’s much-debated and controversial 2-child policy. Success in family planning requires significant investment in services, including provision of short term and contraceptive methods, supported by communications interventions that address established social norms, including the role of men in the family’s reproductive health.
global development partnership that embraces the diversity of actors in international development, a rights-based approach to development, and the use of innovative sources of development finance. Importantly, the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation features new(er) players in the development game, including countries such as India, Brazil and China, plus private and philanthropic organisations, such as the Gates Foundation. Key principles of the Partnership include:
With around two billion people living in poverty, without clean water and sanitation or access to schooling and healthcare, it’s clear that development has to work better to improve people’s lives. In that spirit, delegates to the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, have endorsed a
- Ownership of development priorities by developing countries
- Focus on results
- Inclusive development partnerships
- Transparency and accountability to each other
Other key issues included the role of the private sector, with a growing consensus of its role as “an engine of economic growth and job creation, as an innovator and supplier of affordable goods and services.” With government aid budgets likely to shrink, there will be increasing attention paid to effective approaches to development and the role of the private sector and new development players.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced that it will invest US $35 million in grants to expand the pipeline of groundbreaking ideas that can help women and children live more prosperous and healthy lives. The funding, announced at the annual Grand Challenges Meeting in Delhi, India, will support two new Grand Challenges in Global Health grant programs:
First is ‘Preventing Preterm Birth’, managed in partnership with the Global Alliance for the Prevention of Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS), an initiative of Seattle Children’s, will invest US $20 million in the discovery and development of interventions to prevent preterm birth and stillbirth by limiting infection and improving nutrition. Discover New Ways to Achieve Healthy Growth will invest US$15 million in research to discover the causes of growth faltering during the first 1,000 days of life and to identify effective and affordable interventions to promote healthy growth. Second is $9 million in funding for a new related initiative, “Biomarkers of Gut Function and Health,” that seeks to develop non-invasive measures of intestinal functioning as a way to assess infant health and development.
Several new grant awards through the broader Grand Challenges family of programs were also announced today at the meeting in Delhi. 110 grants of US $100,000 each will support innovative proposals to improve nutrition and development in young children, as well as address infectious diseases such as polio and HIV. The funding was awarded through Round 7 of Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE). 9 GCE projects that have shown promise in tackling global health challenges such as malaria and tuberculosis will receive additional funding of up to US $1 million each to enable researchers to continue to advance their ideas toward impact.
Posted in Ideas, Opportunities
Tagged child, Gates, government, health, HIV/AIDS, India, maternal, nutrition, polio, women
The Sydney Opera House lit in red as part of the Join(RED) campaign. Photo: Anna Gilchrist / AusAID
World AIDS Day 2011 had a bold theme to remind us that much has been achieved in the fight against HIV/AIDS, with many significant challenges remaining. “Zero new HIV infections, Zero discrimination, Zero AIDS-related deaths” is the latest from a movement that has inspired people across the world, with some saying the beginning of the end of AIDS is now in sight. UNAIDS provides the latest global stats:
- 34 million people living with HIV at the end of 2010, up 17% from 2001.
- 2.7 million new infections occurred globally – 21% less than the peak in 1997.
- 1.8 million people died from AIDS-related causes in 2010, down from a peak of 2.2 million in the mid-2000’s.
- 2.5 million deaths have been averted in low- and middle-income countries since 1995 due to the roll out of antiretroviral therapy.
- Nearly half of people (47%) eligible for antiretroviral treatment are now receiving it, including 6.6 million people in low- and middle-income countries.
- Maternal-to-child transmission has dropped from 500,000 in 2001 to 390,000 in 2010.
- Since the epidemic’s peak in 1996, there has been a 40% decline in new HIV infections in South and South-East Asia.
The trial of the latest HIV/AIDS drug, HPTN 052, provided evidence about how effectively ARVs can prevent HIV transmission. HIV-infected participants who received highly active anti-retroviral treatment (HAART) had a 96% lower risk of transmitting HIV to their uninfected partner than those who did not. Treated participants also suffered fewer HIV-related complications than those who delayed therapy. This is considered a win-win for both prevention and treatment.
However, strong social stigma around HIV/AIDS persists, as shown by this story on a 6-year-old Indonesian girl kicked out of school because her father is HIV-positive. Stigma restricts efforts to further reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and means that effective social and behaviour change communications campaigns are much needed.