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.
Apr 3, 2015

An Association is born!

New cooking supplies
New cooking supplies

Mali is ranked as the last country (86 of 86) of all examined in the 2012 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI), following Sudan, DRC, Yemen, and Somalia. The SIGI measures gender inequality by looking at discriminatory social institutions, such as violence against women, restricted access to public space, and restricted access to land and credit. Additionally, widowed women in Mali are the most vulnerable in relation to food insecurity.

 This disheartening statistic on inequality is even more serious in the case of HIV+ women who constitute a sector of the population that is even more vulnerable. 32% of our patients are widowed and have six children on average. Although GAIA supports a portion of their medical costs, they possess few resources to support their children, and in the worst cases, they have been rejected by their extended families due to stigma surrounding their HIV status. Stigma remains a huge problem in Mali; due to grave social repercussions following a seropositive diagnosis, many are reluctant to get tested or pursue treatment. While social groups for women throughout the neighborhood exist, the HIV+ women are often excluded from these activities. As a result of extreme poverty, it is far likelier that the child of an HIV+ parent will drop out of school to get married (in the case of a girl) or work to support the family (in the case of a boy).

Through GAIA’s MTCTP program, we have ensured that the children of our patients are HIV free. Now, we need to safeguard their fragile futures by helping their mothers create a better life for the whole family. In the words of Koumba, a member of the group, “I don’t have means but with the little bit of resources that I find I feed my children. My five children don’t have the disease so I do everything I can so that they stay healthy”. When HIV+ patients were interviewed, they specifically requested a microfinance project. In the words of Ramata, “The most important thing that I want is to sell merchandise so I can earn money to feed my children”.

As a result of GAIA’s 10-year effort to create unifying programs, the HIV+ patients at our clinic have formed an association that has recently gained legal standing. Their goal is to promote knowledge and awareness about HIV/AIDS in Mali and to reduce stigma for those living with HIV/AIDS. 

We are eager to support them for this great cause. In addition to continuing our Nutritional support program, we want to help the HIV+ mothers expand their association to include more members and more activities. 

With your help, we can work towards stability and food security for HIV patients and their families. Please join us in supporting this fledgling association.

Apr 3, 2015

Clap your hands

Everyone is having a grand time at our weekly education sessions with our Expert Peer Educator, Socrates! The subject matter ranges from teen health issues to STDs, HIV and HPV. 

Parents have informed Socrates that their teens have begun behaving in a more mature manner. Some participants have asked Socrates to come to their classrooms to lead an education session. 

Here are two videos from a recent session:

Socrates engages the teens with questions, discussion, and laughter

Sessions end with a clap and a song

Now, it is time for us to think about the next steps. Interested teens will start to be trained to manage and run the sessions themselves. We would love to expand this program to schools as well, but we need your help. This program is in its fledgling stages. It is very much appreciated by the particpants, but we need to plan strategically to keep this program rolling and allow it to have greatest effect among teens.

Please join us in innovating health education for teens in Mali

Mar 9, 2015

And we're off!

As you know, GAIA Vaccine Foundation has lead multiple research projects on HPV in Mali. From surveying people about their current understanding of the virus, to collecting biopsy samples to determine what strains of HPV are causing cervical cancers among the Malian population, GAIA has left no stone unturned in our quest to bring the HPV vaccine to Mali.

Now we are launching our research on an even larger scale: for six months we will be running community education sessions using GAIA's signature HPV cloth. We will be supplying five clinics and training medical staff and peer educators to administer our survey and perform cervical cancer screenings.

We want blow cervical cancer screening rates through the roof for all of 2015! 

After arriving in Bamako last week, it's been so exciting to see all of our long-planned ideas come to fruition. We will begin recording radio programs to be broadcast all over the city next week! Our peer educators and medical staff from the five clinics will be trained by the Regional Health Director, DRS, the following week. Our cloth has already been sent to be printed at the premier Malian Textile company, COMATEX!

Please consider contributing your support as we begin this abitious project. Your donation could allow us to continue supplying the five clinics with cervical cancer screening materials after the 6 month period, and this would greatly increase Malian women's access to screenings.

Together we can fight cervical cancer! 

I will be sending out photos later this week!

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