GAIA Vaccine Foundation

Our mission is to promote prevention of infectious diseases (HIV, TB, and HPV) in Mali while working to develop vaccines for distribution on a not-for-profit basis in the developing world. The Foundation's activities are centered on four themes: education, prevention, access to care, and vaccines. Through our active, ongoing collaboration with West African physicians and support for prevention-related clinical activities in the region, we work to improve the health of Malian children and their parents while setting the stage for ethical vaccine trials.
Nov 6, 2014

It's happening!

Our Teem Peer education program has been successful running every week! Socrates, our long-time peer educator, is currently in the process to training our teen peer educators. Data from the weekly sessions show that we are reaching a large percentage of girls currently in school. It is encouraging to see what a multi-ethnic place our neighborhood of Sikoro is; we have over teens from over 12 ethnic groups enrolled in our peer education sessions! Once our adolescent educators are trained, they will begin leading sessions on their own and Socrates will give them feedback for a period of time. When they are fully competent, the teen educators will begin holding sessions in their neighborhoods to bring relevant information out into the community.

We have adapted the national model for peer education to get our program rolling, yet we have our sights set on reaching and affecting the largest at-risk population. Through discussions with a colleague who runs Eminyeeto, a peer education program for girls in Uganda, we are inspired to implement peer education as an afterschool program in Mali. The main issue our teens in Sikoro face is early pregnancy which can also mean infection with HIV or other STIs. A medical anthropologist collegue, Mr. Dolo, confirmed our research by telling us that he had been contacted by school directors who complained of girls dropping out due to pregnancy. Once we have a better sense of the effectiveness of our program, we hope to begin making the necessary connections to bring our program to schools. In the words of our Program Director, Dr. Tounkara:

Adolescence is a difficult to time for families as teens reject authority and strive for autonomy. Education through outreach strategies is the best way to avoid the problems associated with the significant rate of physical growth as well as physiological and emotional changes that happen during adolescence that may lead to high-risk behavior such as: early pregnancies, STIs (including HIV and HPV), drug and alcohol abuse, smoking, and eating disorders

Here are the statistics from our weekly sessions:

300      Participants

80%     Female participants

16        Average age

87%     Between the ages of 14 and 18

13%     Older than 18 or younger than14

96%     Attending school

Please support our innitiative as we expand this important program! We greatly appreciate your contribution!

Links:

Nov 5, 2014

Join GAIA's climb to the top!

Dear supporters,

This is an exciting time for GAIA Vaccine Foundation! We are proud to announce that we are round 13 winners of the Grand Challenges grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation! Our HPV cloth project, called the "Story-telling cloth" is listed on their website:

http://gcgh.grandchallenges.org/explorations/Pages/grantsawarded.aspx?Round=all&Phase=all&ProjectID=1328

And now the challenge begins! We have 18 months to prove that our innovative textile designs can change the existing culture around HPV vaccination and the lack of cervical cancer screenings in West Africa. We need your help now more than ever!

We will be running education sessions in Mali and surveying participants to assess our story-telling cloth's ability to help women understand the connection between HPV and cervical cancer. 

We have a finalized version of the design that incorporates the input of the Malian focus groups that took place over the summer. Colors have been varied to best suit our community's fashion sense! We also added a popular Bambara slogan "BANAKOUBÈ KAFISA NI BANA FOURA KÈYÉ", meaning "It's better to prevent than cure".

Our founder, Annie De Groot, is currently delivering cloth to West African musicians who have agreed to support  and promote our campaign. Stay tuned for photos in a future report, this promises to be eye-catching!

Please continue your support of this important innitiative. We are on the road to success, and we would love for you to join us!

Links:

Oct 14, 2014

We are raising teachers

Mali
Mali's first lady speaks at Nat'l MTCTP launch

  "Cet enfant que vous voyez n’a rien par ce que j’ai commencé à prendre des medicaments au cours de la grossesse."

"This child that you see on my lap is HIV free because I learned to take medication duing my pregnancy", an HIV+ patient in a pink dress explained to me at the Hope Center Clinic. After losing one daughter to HIV infections, it must have felt like a miracle to give birth to a son who is safe from the virus.

Our HIV+ patients are the best teachers we could provide the community, because they hold the proof in their arms that our program is 100% effective.

Another one of our patients, a girl born with HIV who is quickly growing into a bright young woman spoke of her desire to educate others about HIV,

The advice that I would give you if you were HIV+ is to make sure that you don't go out and infect other. You can get tested and protect yourself. People need to understand that AIDS is not a mean disease.

Unfortunately, due to crippling stigma that HIV+ people face in Mali, it is not easyfor our brave patients to go out and share theirs stories.

We need to continue our community outreach efforts and encourage new patients to adhere to their medication and the Mother to Child Transmission Prevention program (MTCTP) that we have created at Hope Center Clinic. In July, a national program was launched in Mali to eliminate mother to child transmission over the next five years. This is an ambitious plan, but GAIA has proven that with adherance to our program, 100% HIV free births are possible.

Thank you for your continued support, and please help us gain momentum as we continue this fight!

Links:

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