Oct 23, 2020

Preventing HIV Infection During the Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Malian children are more vulnerable than ever. Due to an overburdened health care system and decreased access to mother-to-child HIV prevention services, children are more likely to be born with HIV. 

The Imperial College of London estimates that HIV-related deaths in high-burden areas could increase by 10% due to the effects of COVID-19. Extra help and generosity will be needed to provide supplies, adapt HIV services and help ensure that COVID-19 will not be fought at the expense of HIV/AIDS. 

GAIA Vaccine Foundation provides free HIV testing, counseling and treatment to mothers to reduce the number of children born with HIV. Given how the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced access to treatment and continuity of care for people living with HIV, these services are more important than ever. 

With your generosity and support, we can continue to ensure children in Mali are born free of HIV during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Oct 14, 2020

October COVID-19 in Mali Update

As of October 12th, The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center has reported 3,296 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Mali. 632 of these cases are currently active, up from 480 in late August. Though Mali has been able to control the spread of COVID-19 by implementing well-coordinated public health and social measures, a lack of testing and PPE, misinformation, and growing political tension during the lockdown leave its people vulnerable. 

The combined effects of violent conflict, poor food harvests and COVID-19 have left Mali in a precarious state. Since prevention measures were implemented, poverty and living conditions have worsened significantly. With an overtaxed health system and lack of proper PPE, access to health services that are normally available has decreased. In addition, the spread of misinformation and conspiracies has increased tensions among vulnerable communities who are resisting government public health measures that interfere with normal life. 

The pandemic’s repercussions on peace and social relations in Mali are concerning. In some cases, health care workers and victims and survivors of COVID-19 have faced social stigma from the community. While being interviewed for a study on stigmatization of COVID-19 by Save the Children, Aissata, a Malian youth human rights advocate, said:

 “A friend shared with me her feelings following the death of her uncle, who had just come back from a Western country and was suspected of having COVID-19. While she was trying to cope with her pain and grief, people she had been with at the funeral kept calling her to find out whether she had the disease too. She felt harassed. She felt they didn't care about her and the painful time she was going through, but were only worried about being infected by her. Many of her friends and people who knew her ostracized her; she became the person to avoid. Eventually, the results showed her uncle was not even carrying the virus.”

While Mali is trying its hardest to control the spread of COVID-19, it still lacks the PPE, testing, sanitation supplies and community outreach that will allow for widespread treatment and prevention. Your donation will help us to continue to provide  essential supplies and services to Hope Center Clinic, so that patients and health care workers can stay safe and healthy. A donation of just $25 provides a box of masks to protect our staff and patients!

Thank you for your generosity and support to GAIA Vaccine Foundation!

Sep 1, 2020

Pandemic Leading to Decreased Access to Care

As the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage many parts of the world, efforts to contain the coronavirus have disrupted healthcare systems tasked with preventing and treating other illnesses. According to the World Bank, the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa led to an 18% decrease in routine medical services which led to an increase in deaths due to other infectious diseases. While the reported COVID-19 infection rate in Mali is much lower than that of the United States, HIV/AIDS is still a great risk to those living in Mali.

GAIA VF’s initiative to ensure that children in Mali are Born Free of HIV in West Africa is even more important given the reduced access to healthcare that the COVID-19 pandemic has created. The implications of being born with HIV during this pandemic can affect a child for a lifetime. In order to ensure that no child is born HIV positive, Mother-To-Child Transmission Prevention, or MTCTP, is necessary. Expectant mothers need healthcare resources, such as access to HIV testing, counseling, and treatment, in order to dramatically reduce the chance that their children could be born HIV positive. 

With your contributions to GAIA VF, we can work to provide the support needed for Mother-To-Child-Transmission Prevention (MTCTP) and ensure that children in West Africa are Born Free of HIV. A $25 donation supports HIV testing for five women in the clinic. A $50 donation supports all of the laboratory tests for one mother during the pre-natal period, including ultrasound.

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