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.
Mar 26, 2013

A vulnerable sector of the Malian population

Mom with twins
Mom with twins

GAIA Vaccine Foundation is launching a new program which is primarily focused on HIV prevention, HIV testing and access to care for the most vulnerable sector of the Malian population – young women and men, especially teenagers. The decision to focus on youth follows an evaluation of the impact of our programs that was performed with your support in 2011. We recently determined that there has been a steadily increasing incidence of new HIV infections among girls and women presenting at our clinic with their first pregnancy.

This increase occurred despite our ‘village-wide’ focus on HIV. So, what we were doing was not reaching women and young girls at risk. For 2013, we’re going to focus on this especially vulnerable group and therefore plan to:

  • Develop targeted prevention tools for young men and young mothers
  • Reach out to young mothers to reduce their rate of HIV acquisition.
  • Provide incentives to get tested, participate in education, and use condoms.
  • Educate: hire expert “youth” peer educators for the new program
  • Use the nutrition program for HIV+ mothers and their families as a model; develop a similar program for teenagers and very young mothers.

These sessions will also address the topic of cervical cancer and HPV.  We have a new focus on cervical cancer in addition to HIV/AIDS because Cervical Cancer is a big killer of women in West Africa.

GAIA is lending its expertise in field site outreach to help with the distribution of available doses of cervical cancer vaccines.  Right now in Mali, amidst a political crisis, there are 33,000 doses of the HPV vaccine, that can’t be distributed because public health dollars are supporting the military instead. However, the vaccine is perishable, and time is running out. If not utilized within the next few months, the vaccine and with it the possibility of more than 10,000 lives, will be wasted.

We have expert fieldworkers ready to distribute the vaccine, under the supervision of local healthcare providers. 11,000 adolescents will be vaccinated with one of the two vaccines that is currently approved for cervical cancer prevention. This vaccine is safe (no significant adverse events) and nearly 100% effective.  (For detailed information please see our HPV Vaccine project posted on GlobalGiving).

GAIA VF’s vision for a healthier West Africa does not end with the HPV vaccine campaign. In fact, this trial will serves as a pilot for all clinical studies to come, and including our eventual HIV vaccine trial. We will pilot protocols for future trials, and put an infrastructure in place of processes and personnel, and to train those personnel with the skills needed to sustain a vaccine trial site. That way, when we have the GAIA vaccine ready, we can distribute it in West Africa eventually distribute the HIV vaccine that is currently being developed at no cost in developing countries like Mali.

Participating in this campaign to stop cervical cancer means that you are a true visionary.

Thank you for your support! 

Links:

Mar 25, 2013

33,000 doses of HPV vaccine in Mali West Africa

Using traditions of storytelling
Using traditions of storytelling

Right now in Mali, amidst a political crisis, lie 33,000 doses of the HPV vaccine, unable to be distributed as military funding has become the country’s financial focus. However, the vaccine is perishable, and time is running out. If not utilized within the next few months, the vaccine and with it the possibility of saving thousands of lives, will be wasted.

When we conducted our Malian-based HPV study, a dismal 9.8% of female participants had even heard of cervical cancer. Yet 12%, about 1 in every 10, Malian woman has been diagnosed with HPV. Further, 80% of those diagnosed with cervical cancer will die from the disease. That is, 1,076 Malian women die each year of preventable cervical cancer due to a lack of cytotechnology screening and early treatment programs. Many of these deaths can be eradicated with the same preventative HPV vaccine that has shown success in the developing world.

How is GAIA VF taking action?

We are now gathering and analyzing data in order to validate the usability of the HPV vaccine and obtain approval for its use in Mali and to subsequently build a framework for future vaccine trials. Specifically, GAIA VF will be vaccinating adolescent women in a preventative approach for a sustainable reduction in the prevalence of HPV in Mali. 

We are also developping a cloth that tells the story of strong, educated women who proclaim, “I immunize myself, I protect myself, and I take care of myself”– a mantra written as a banner across the image offlowering, healthy cervixes (see attached picture).  It is the banner of strength that keeps the virus out of the healthy cervixes, a reminder of the importance of being an educated, vaccinated woman. Every Malian woman who receives the HPV vaccine will receive a cloth so that she might pass on the story of prevention and vaccination, and take on a personal role in curing cervical cancer.

Past, Present, and Future

The GAIA VF HPV vaccine initiative will use traditions of storytelling through textiles in order to change the Malian peoples’ present understanding of HPV and cervical cancer in order to create a foundation of prevention through education and vaccination in Mali. This is an integrated project that involves not only the scientists and personnel at GAIA VF, but the people of Mali in taking steps towards curing cervical cancer.

We thank you for your support.

Dec 12, 2012

International Papillomavirus Conference

Our study - evaluation of the prevalence of HPV subtypes associated with cervical cancer - is still ongoing. To date 100% of patients have been enrolled and interviewed and the recruitment of subjects is now closed.

Dr. Ibrahima Téguété, our Malian collaborator on this study, was the recipient a travel grant enabling him to attend the International Papillomavirus Conference in Puerto Rico this month and present a poster with preliminary results.

As you all know Mali is still facing a major political crisis. We believe that continuing to operate our programs will instill hope in the citizens of Mali to sustain them through these difficult times. Our Malian collaborators are continuing their work, and we need to bolster their optimism that peace and prosperity will be restored. More than ever, GAIA VF, our staff, and our patients need our, and your, support.

Thank you!

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