Thursday, October 29, 2009

Unlikely Collaboration: Swim Strong Foundation

_What do you do when the President of a swim foundation asked you to collaborate? You say YES and let things unfold. I am glad I said yes to Shawn Slevin's question that day still wondering what could possibly come of it. Today we are friends, help each other out, refer and link each other and I gained respect for what The Swim Strong Foundation is doing to strengthen the self esteem of young people, giving them skills that are not written in day to day school circular. The picture shows a proto type of the foundations logo made by Imelda, the Cameroonian woman who makes our beautiful glass bead necklaces When Imelda made the bracelets for the Swim Strong Foundation she crafted a bridge between my swimming friend directly with Cameroon/Africa.

This is a list of COMMON DISCREPANCIES concerning the public’s view of AIDS, mainly based upon Emily Oster’s “Three Things You Don’t Know About AIDS in Africa”, which can be found watching her video appearance at an TED event.

AIDSfreeAFRICA agrees with her points of view. Here are the common misconceptions she points out:

1. It’s the wrong disease to attack- Emily Oster correctly pointed out that STIs (sexually transmitted infections) other than HIV have higher infection rates in Africa and are more likely to be left untreated. Also, people with untreated STIs are more likely to become infected with HIV/AIDS due to a lack of essential drugs. Africa, as a continent, needs more antibiotics, antifungals, painkillers, and antimalarials yet these drugs are unavailable for the general population. AIDSfreeAFRICA’s original mission was to produce antiretrovirals but as a result of the overwhelming statistics of untreated STIs, has shifted locale drug production plans to focus on generic essential drugs to make the drugs more accessible. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of HIV prevention strategies should incorporate condom usages, male circumcision, distribution of clean needles, and so forth.
2. It will not disappear until poverty does- Emily Oster states that in a poverty- stricken country, with low life expectancy, an infection that will make you sick in seven to ten years is not as impactful as being hungry. This push affects a person’s judgment, at times influencing a person to choose to engage in risky behavior in exchange for food. Also, it forces someone to opt to pay for food instead of to pay for antiretrovirals or a hospital bill.
3. There is less of it than we through but it is spreading as fast as ever- Ms. Oster stated, “The reason is quite simple: bias in who is tested. The UN's estimates are not based on diagnoses of whole populations or even a random sample. They are based on tests of pregnant women at prenatal clinics. And in Africa, sexually active women of childbearing age have the highest rates of HIV infection.” However, what Oster does not seem to know is that United Nations and others have also seen this bias and it has been corrected.
4. Donors expect their donations to be supporting the intended audience though the expected result of a monetary contribution does not always coincide with the realized result. It is AIDSfreeAFRICA’s opinion and experience to take the position that “old- fashioned charity” does not work because what is needed is economic development. Prof. Jeffrey Sachs has been on the forefront of this change in mentality and our organization wholeheartedly agrees.
4. More people die of preventable and treatable diseases (STIs, malaria, and tuberculosis) than of HIV/AIDS.
5. AIDS affects and infects the young African female population more than men (in Cameroon, 2/3 of the infected HIV/AIDS individuals are female) and Stephen Lewis clearly states, “The face of HIV/AIDS is female.”

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Good News

Good news are a good place to restart the AIDSfreeAFRICA blog.

First of all, winning the Astellas USA award for doing work that has an impact on global health we have written "drug production in Africa" into the history books!
We are pleased that the Astellas USA Foundation in conjunction with the American Cheical Society chose us for this recognition and the $30,000 that came with it.

Please read more about the award on our web site.

Secondly you have to read todays The Los Angeles Times story that I quote here:

Antibodies found that prevent HIV from causing severe AIDS
Scientists were able to isolate two antibodies responsible for resistance to the disease in an African patient. The discovery could be key to the development of a vaccine.

A team based at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla reports today in the journal Science that they have isolated two so-called broadly neutralizing antibodies that can block the action of many strains of HIV, the virus responsible for AIDS.

"This is opening up a whole new area of science," said Dr. Seth F. Berkley, president and chief executive of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, which funded and coordinated the research. Read more....