Aug 22, 2019

Over 1,400 Women Tested for HIV This Year!

In the United States, every pregnant woman is tested for HIV as part of routine prenatal care. This ensures that if a mother is found to be HIV+, her baby can be given Antiretroviral therapy (ART) which will prevent the baby from becoming HIV+ themselves. ART medication is highly effective and truly lifesaving.

In Mali, only a third of pregnant women are tested for HIV. This can inhibit infants from receiving ART and lead to HIV infection. GAIA Vaccine Foundation is proud to say that Hope Center Clinic tests all women for HIV. In 2004, the clinic became the first health center in Mali to successfully implement a vertical transmission prevention program. Last year, over 1,400 women were tested through this program. 

Building off the strength of the project, GAIA VF has received a grant from ViiV Healthcare and Positive Action to introduce the "Pratt Pouch" to Hope Center Clinic through a pilot project. The Pratt Pouch is a packaging device similar in appearance to a ketchup packet and is designed to preserve ART. The pouch can extend the lifespan of ART for up to 12 months and allows mothers to bring the correct dosage of medication home to their babies. This is especially important in Mali as many mothers give birth at home and do not have access to ART for their infant. The study will assess the feasibility of Pratt Pouch introduction and acceptance in Bamako, Mali. While the device has been tested in other low-resource countries such as Ecuador and Zambia, this will be the first pilot project done in a West African country and a francophone country. 

GAIA is currently working hard to set up the project and expects to launch this pilot program in the fall. Your continued support for the “Born Free of HIV” program is essential in ensuring that all women in Bamako have access to HIV testing. A donation of just $25 supports HIV testing for 5 Malian women. 

Aug 5, 2019

A Successful Start to 2019's Nutrition Program

Meals are an important part of Malian culture. At meal times, families often gather around a communal dish, sharing an assortment of grains, yams, vegetables, and occasionally meats. However, food insecurity, defined as a lack of reliable access to affordable quality food is high in Mali. Food insecurity has increased in Mali with more frequent droughts and regional instability after the 2012 coup. A 2019 report by the World Food Program estimated 330,0000 people in Mali to be food insecure and the number is expected to rise throughout the rest of this year. 

It is well known that a healthy diet is essential when undergoing medical treatments. However, many Malians do not have access to consistent nutritious meals which can inhibit effective healing. GAIA and the Hope Center Clinic understand the importance of healthy meals when battling HIV, which inspired the creation of the “Nutrition and Peer Support for HIV+ Patients” program in 2008 that provides meals to clinic patients twice per week. 

GAIA’s support to the Hope Center Clinic’s nutrition program is an essential way to support patients and their families. The program has continued to hold bi-weekly meals which are prepared by HIV+ patients. Not only does the program provide nutritious meals to patients, it also helps to destigmatize HIV in the community. Both patients and their families are welcome to attend and during the first 6 months of 2019, 1,870 meals have already been served in Bamako. 

With your continued support to GAIA and the Hope Center Clinic, we will be able to continue supporting the Bamako community. A donation of just $10 provides a weekly meal to an HIV+ patient. Please visit our Global Giving page to learn more about how you can help us prepare meals in Bamako today. 

Aug 5, 2019

Steps After a Successful HPV Prevention Campaign

Every woman we have ever met in Mali, West Africa, knows a good friend who has been affected by cervical cancer, if she hasn’t had it herself. That’s because Mali has exceptionally high rates of cervical cancer (CC) and is considered to have the third highest rate of the disease in all of West Africa. A recent study reported a CC incident rate of 2,206 women per year with an annual mortality rate of 1,704. And, it’s very likely that mortality from CC is under reported, because screening is not available to all women.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection that has been linked to the development of CC. The new HPV vaccine (only available for the last 10 years or so) is an extremely effective way to protect against HPV and could, in fact, drastically reduce the rate of occurrence of CC world-wide. The vaccine has been approved in 125 countries and is used to vaccinate girls between the ages of 9-15. Unfortunately, HPV vaccine is not always available in low-resource developing countries, the vaccine is often scarce as supplies, facilities, and medical professionals become less frequent and consistent. This is very true in Mali. However, we know that making vaccine available could significantly reduce cervical cancer in Mali: 90% HPV vaccination coverage in Mali would decrease the risk of CC by 89%. 

With local partners in Mali, GAIA VF has been working hard to address high rates of HPV, CC, and infrequent access to vaccinations across the country. We just completed a highly effective outreach and education campaign that sought to increase knowledge of HPV and CC and destigmatize it in the community. We expected that an additional 10% of Malian girls would be reached through our Our Daughters Ourselves story telling cloth project. As it turns out, this illustrated storytelling cloth was a crucial part of the campaign, as the neighborhood surrounding Hope Center Clinic has a 90% illiteracy rate. Our campaign was highly successful: In 2018, in collaboration with several primary care clinics in Bamako, Mali, GAIA was able to offer CC screenings to 5,611 women and HPV vaccinations to almost 800 girls.

We recently expanded our programs to a nearby clinic in Bamako, while we are continuing to support screening and vaccinations at both the Hope Center Clinic and ASACOBA. With your support, we will be able to continue providing these life saving services. A donation of just $10 provides a cervical cancer screening and printed cloth for one Malian woman. Help us support the Bamako community and reduce rates of cervical cancer across Mali today by visiting our GlobalGiving page.

 
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