Born Free of HIV in West Africa

Jul 15, 2014

New challenge

Awa Couliby and Annie De Groot
Awa Couliby and Annie De Groot

Writing to you from Bamako, Mali, I can tell you of a surprise we encountered when we visited the Hope Center Clinic: Many of our HIV+ patients are pregnant!

Yes, our Mother to Children Transmission Prevention program (MTCTP or PTME in French) is so reliable, with it's 100% HIV free birthrate, our patients are confidently increasing their families!

During a week full of meetings with many public health officials in Bamako, it was wonderful to hear praise for our successful programs. Our small clinic is considered to be one of the best in Bamako, and a model for how efficiently localized healthcare can improve lives.

As we blaze the trail for effective treatment and prevention, we strive to continue to expand our programs. Our next step will be to increase our community outreach, to draw more women to our clinic.

Your continued support is what makes us who we are!

Here is a picture of our founder and scientific director, Annie De Groot with Madame Awa Coulibay, head of the DRS, Regional Health Director.


May 6, 2014

A critical moment for Mali

Due to political conflict during the past 2 years over 350,000 Malians have fled their home. Some refugees crossed boreders into neighboring countries, while many remained as IDPs, internatally deplaced people. Malians who settled in Bamako after fleeing from violence in the North have had to face many difficulties, such as lack of housing and access to healthcare and farmland. Now, the government is urging its refugee citizens to return home. Despite the positive feelings of national rebuilding that the return of refugees signifies, the burgeoning population will strain the already limited resources. People who return home may not have time to grow enough food to support their families, and malnutrition rates are expected to rise.

In a world where there are many ongoing conflicts, Mali does not often figure on the list of countries that require attention and aid, but that does not mean it is any less of an important time to act. 

We still remain committed to our programs in Mali, and all of our voluntary testing, HIV care, and social support groups have remained functioning. In fact levels of testing rose slightly as other clinics were forced to close or reduce their programs.

At the Hope Center Clinic:

1) 150 pregnant women on average are still getting tested monthly. 

2) 30 families are still receiving nutritional support every week

3) 55 patients on average are coming for voluntary HIV testing every month.

Everyone has been holding on for two years, and it is now time to redouble our efforts as Mali returns to stability. It is a crucial moment to send renewed energy and assistance towards development programs in this country, as it heals from the past two years of turmoil, and makes its way to a peaceful future.

With your help, we can bolster our programs at the clinic, expand our vaccination research, and continue to make sure that 100% of babies born at the clinic are HIV free.

Thank you.


Mar 26, 2013

A vulnerable sector of the Malian population


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!


Nov 30, 2012

Mother To Child Transmission Program Evaluation

GAIA VF conducted a six-year retrospective assessment of its Mother To Child Transmission Program to evaluate its efficacy in preventing pediatric infections and providing services and support to HIV-positive women. Doctors and volunteers reviewed the maternity clinic’s patient charts to identify HIV-positive women enrolled in the MTCTP program for study participation. MTCTP acceptance, HIV transmission risk factors, and HIV seroprevalence among 150 babies born to mothers enrolled in the MTCTP program from 2005-2011 were evaluated by survey.

The results of this evaluation were presented this year at the annual AIDS Vaccine Conference in Boston. GAIA counseled 9,379 women about HIV infection from 2005-2011 (average 145/month). An overwhelming majority (99.1%) of women agreed to HIV testing following counseling. 202 women (2.1%) were HIV positive, of whom 125 (61.9%) accepted MTCTP treatment. Notably, 100% of babies born at Chez Rosalie to MTCTP-adherent mothers were HIV free.

December 1st is World AIDS Day!

Your support for GAIA could not be more important than it is right now – we cannot continue without your help. Help us preserve our HIV care, treatment, and education programs in Mali! Please stand strong with GAIA VF and make a donation today.

Jun 1, 2012

Ongoing programs despite civil unrest in Bamako

As you know, a military coup took place in March 2012, and there is ongoing civil unrest in Bamako. The US embassy remains open, but Peace Corps volunteers have been withdrawn. Accordingly, we have reduced our own presence in Bamako to the minimum; however, we remain committed to continuing support of access to HIV care at the village level, which – in this time of unrest – remains a significant, if not more critical need.

We compiled the results of our work over the past four months in order to measure the impact of the political crisis on our activities at the Hope Center Clinic. Our monthly reports show that in spite of the difficult circumstances:

1) 150 pregnant women on average are still getting tested monthly. Enrollment in the PMTCT program has been steady over the past four months.

2) 30 families are still receiving nutritional support every week. Enrollment has been steady over the past four months.

3) 40 babies are currently being followed.

4) 55 patients on average are coming for voluntary HIV testing every month. Enrollment has skyrocketed in the past four months, increasing from 47 in January 2012 to 83 in April 2012. This increase in voluntary testing shows that our reputable management techniques and efforts to provide free high quality HIV care are reliable.

Our onsite director, Dr. Tounkara Karamoko, also said that significantly more HIV tests have been requested recently by people living in surrounding communities due to the closures of medical infrastructure and clinics in the past weeks.

Despite ongoing unrest in Mali, we remain committed to supporting humanitarian aid and preserving the program that has been one of the most successful interventions in Mali, over the last 10 years. We believe that it is critically important, at this juncture, to sustain hope. We must encourage our Malian colleagues to continue to fight against AIDS, and buttress their optimism that peace and prosperity will be restored.

Thank you!

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.

An anonymous donor will match all new monthly recurring donations, but only if 75% of donors upgrade to a recurring donation today.
Terms and conditions apply.
Make a monthly recurring donation on your credit card. You can cancel at any time.
Make a donation in honor or memory of:
What kind of card would you like to send?
How much would you like to donate?
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?


Project Leader

Anne De Groot

Founder and Scientific Director
Providence, ri United States

Where is this project located?

Mali   Health
Map of Born Free of HIV in West Africa