November And December Highlights At HEARD

It’s been a few months of intense traveling and presenting research for HEARD staff. I participated in various conferences commemorating the 30th anniversary since HIV and AIDS was first discovered. Below are some of the event highlights and information on forthcoming conferences I will be attending.

2011 Caribbean HIV Conference

The 2011 Caribbean HIV Conference was held in the Bahamas from 18 – 21 November. The focus this year was given to sharpening the focus on HIV in the Caribbean, the region with the world’s second highest adult HIV prevalence. As a panelist at event, I presented What is Realistic ‘Sustainability’ within the Context of a Multi-country Regional HIV Response?: A Perspective from southern Africa. This conference presentation was prepared with the support of HEARD research intern Natashya Pillay and was well received. The key points were that the Caribbean has succeeded in controlling their epidemic and should be commended for this, the price of success is continued vigilance. There is diversity between the countries. One key lesson both ways is to build on regional organisations.

Focal points of the presentation:

  • Background/Introduction
  • An epidemiological comparison of hyper-epidemic countries in the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Methodology/Experience
  • Sustainability; regional versus multi-country efforts; prevention, treatment and impact mitigation.
  • Results/Good Practices
  • In particular, lessons can be learnt from Swaziland, the sub-Saharan country with the highest adult HIV prevalence rate.
  • Conclusions/Recommendations
  • Efforts need to be concretized and regional integration is a way to achieve this. It will allow HIV and AIDS efforts to be mainstreamed.

Economic Reference Group Meeting (ERG) in Washington

HEARD organised the World Bank and UNAIDS ERG in Washington on 29 and 30 November. This meeting was attended by HEARD researcher Ilaria Regondi and Professor Whiteside. The meeting looked at financing of the AIDS response and the results of the RethinkHIV project.

Guest of the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta

In late November I travelled to Edmonto and was hosted by David Zakus, who is a Professor and the Director of Global Health in the Division of Community and Occupational Medicine Engagement of the Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta.I gave four presentations consisting of two lectures presented to a class of students: Aid for AIDS and Making Hard Choices: Prevention in the Global Crisis; and two public lectures Economics and HIV in Africa: Costs and Consequences and A Safe Sex/No Sex Month: Could it work? Innovative Responses for Preventing HIV Transmission.

AIDS @30 Symposium at the Harvard School of Medical Health- 1 and 2 December

I was also invited as a participant together with other international health leaders, elected officials, scientists, artists and activists. The meeting was convened to reflect on what we have learned from AIDS and how to apply those lessons towards ending the epidemic. There were presentations from among others, Julio Frenk the former Mexican Minister of Health and currently Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health and Anthony Fauci who is the Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Durban academics were well represented at the event.

Health Systems Workshop at the Wellcome Trust London

This workshop will take place on the 13 and 14 December 2011. This is the UK health funders workshop on health systems research in low and middle income countries.

At last, progress in developing an AIDS vaccine

According to recent media reports, an experimental HIV vaccine has for the first time cut risk of infection. I was invited by OUPblog to post my views on this recent development. OUPblog is Oxford University Press’ blogosphere for learning, understanding and reflection. To read the posting,¬†click¬†here.