Nurse at Hope Center Clinic - Summer 2010
Good news from West Africa! Your favorite HIV prevention organization has successfully completed its second year of improving access to HIV care. With your support, GAIA has improved access to care for more than 45,000 Malians at the GAIA community-based clinic, the Hope Center Clinic in Sikoro, Mali.
Slowly but steadily, GAIA VF is building a state of the art program for HIV-positive patients in this resource-poor setting. The goal of this program is to reduce HIV transmission in one area of the world, to demonstrate the impact of community-based HIV care, and to prepare for an HIV vaccine trial in the same community.
Access to HIV treatment
Since its inception, the program has enrolled over one hundred patients, and the results so far are encouraging: our patients have steadily been regaining weight, and their CD4 T cell counts are climbing. The patients also understand the importance of taking their medications – our pharmacist reports that adherence has climbed to near 100%.
This high rate of adherence is due to GAIA VF’s investment in peer support sessions at the clinic. The investment is certainly paying off: as a result of improved adherence, AIDS-related infections have become less common, and the general well-being of our patients continues to improve. No deaths have been observed among those patients followed in the clinic who have been treated for at least 4 months! Even the most skeptical members of the community are beginning to see the importance of HIV testing, access to care, and treatment.
HIV testing and follow up
The door to improved survival with HIV is early diagnosis. In 2010, GAIA VF increased the clinic’s HIV testing capacity. Our peer educators made 3,000 contacts within the community and more than 1,500 were tested for HIV. 81% were screened through our Prevention for Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) and 19% via Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT). 50% of the new patients were eligible for initiation of therapy, and received HIV medication. Half of these patients are pregnant women. Those that are HIV-seropositive but not yet clinically eligible for HIV treatment are being followed. We recently hired a case manager to improve patient follow up and monitor adherence.
With donor support, we’re building a new maternity ward at the clinic. We’re also making technical improvements: we purchased an air conditioner and replaced the refrigerator in the pharmacy, and we pay for Internet access. We also organized training for our staff to strengthen their skills.
HIV-TB Prevention program
Two Brown University students (Lauren Pischel and Julie Caplow) invested time and energy on our TB Bolo program in 2009. As a result of their enthusiasm and hard work, GAIA VF decided to invest in improving tuberculosis prevention and screening by making the tools available at the Hope Center Clinic for the rapid detection of TB. As a result, our TB case detection rate is rising and, as TB transmission is reduced, our HIV patients will be less likely to be co-infected with TB.
How can you help support our work in 2011?
Our plans for 2011 include -
Free HIV testing for all who wish to have it
GAIA VF will continue to expand HIV testing and increase the number of patients on HIV treatment. This is a lifesaving intervention, and it also reduces HIV transmission in the community. Like the Mother-to-Child-Transmission (MTCT) prevention program, it’s the ‘vaccine we have now’. With your support we plan to increase screening/testing by 25% and the number of patients under ARV treatment by 100%.
Encouraging fathers to participate
Of all our programs, the mother-to-child-transmission prevention program enrolls the most HIV infected patients. We plan to use this “window” into the family to reach their contacts. In 2011, we’ll work to improve our connections to men by reaching out to new fathers and conducting a comprehensive follow-up program. Increasing the number of post-natal consultations, strengthening the HIV counseling and support services for mothers and fathers, encouraging mothers to bring the baby’s father to the pre- and post-natal sessions, and training more nurse-midwives will allow us to enroll more patients through the post-natal “window” of access to the family.
Raising awareness, reducing stigma
In pursuit of our goal to involve fathers and young men in HIV testing, we’ll launch an awareness campaign targeting men, so as to decrease the stigma of HIV infection and encourage men of all ages to get tested and treated for HIV.
Our award-winning “Here Bolo” program will continue this year (and it has now been adopted in Haiti!). Our peer educators will tailor their communications to specific groups in Sikoro (women, elders, youth, orphans, men/fathers), making sure that everyone knows that free, complete HIV care is available in their community.
Nutritional support for patients
Nutritional support is a key aspect of our care for the AIDS patients. In addition to providing a weekly meal, this program reduces stigma and improves communication, adherence to treatment, and the effectiveness of medications.
A bright new space for children with HIV
GAIA VF has plans to recruit a pediatric HIV specialist to provide care to children born with HIV in the community. We would like to challenge our donors to contribute to this effort to build a space for our pediatric HIV patients. We hope to create a warm, happy setting for their care.
World AIDS Day 2010: Honor the day with a donation!
This year the GAIA Vaccine Foundation is moving its annual WAD event to Mali! Can’t go? Stay tuned: we have a big event coming up in the Spring in Providence! Check in on line and stay in touch!
Make a contribution to GAIA in honor of World AIDS Day! Help us stop HIV in its tracks!
GAIA by the numbers in 2010:
12,824 condoms distributed
1,890 HIV tests performed
More than 100 patients receiving HIV treatment
38 at-risk newborns currently being followed
2 new programs: HPV and TB prevention