December 1: Worlds Aids Day — The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is “Communities make the difference” and the essential role that communities have played and continue to play in the AIDS response at the international, national and local levels.
Communities contribute to the AIDS response in many different ways. Their leadership and advocacy ensure that the response remains relevant and grounded, keeping people at the centre and leaving no one behind.
Communities include peer educators, networks of people living with or affected by HIV, such as gay men and other men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and sex workers, women and young people, counselors, community health workers, door-to-door service providers, civil society organizations and grass-roots activists.
World AIDS Day offers an important platform to highlight the role of communities at a time when reduced funding and a shrinking space for civil society are putting the sustainability of services and advocacy efforts in jeopardy.
According to UNAIDS.org, “greater mobilization of communities is urgently required to address the barriers that stop communities delivering services, including restrictions on registration and an absence of social contracting modalities.”
The strong advocacy role played by communities is needed more than ever to ensure that AIDS remains on the political agenda, that human rights are respected and that decision-makers and implementers are held accountable.
Bali Peduli: HIV Outreach/Education
One such community organization is Bali Peduli, whose vision is to prevent the spread of HIV by providing information to high risk groups. Yayasan Bali Peduli aims to raise awareness about HIV prevention, testing and treatment in order to reduce the spread of HIV in Bali. To do this they run outreach and education programs with the Balinese community.
New HIV vaccine could expose latent virus and kill it
As reported in Medical News Today, antiretroviral therapy may soon be obsolete, as scientists have successfully used immune cells to kick the dormant form of HIV out of its hiding place and destroy it. The findings may soon lead to an HIV vaccine.
Antiretroviral therapy can keep HIV in check so well that the virus is nearly undetectable in the blood. However, HIV continues to “live” in latent form, so people with it must keep taking the medications to prevent it from flaring up.
Antiretroviral therapy can have a host of side effects. These may include gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular problems, insulin resistance, and bleeding events, as well as effects on bone density, liver health, and neurological and psychiatric health.
The search for an HIV cure is ongoing. Now, new research may have found a way to “drag” the virus out of its hiding place and neutralize it. The findings may lead to a vaccine that would allow people living with HIV to stop taking antiretroviral medication every day.