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 Global Giving).
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!