In January, the Botswana Harvard Partnership (BHP) celebrated its 20th anniversary. At the ceremony in Gaborone, Dr. Max Essex , Chair of both the BHP and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health AIDS Initiative, delivered these remarks:
Botswana and the Botswana Harvard Partnership have much to celebrate. Although AIDS in Africa was recognized as a major epidemic in east and central Africa in the early to mid 1980s, it was not yet a big deal in southern Africa. By the early to mid 1990s, however, UNAIDS and the World Health Organization prevalence estimates showed that southern Africa was much more impacted than all other regions of the world.
The annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) brings together top basic, translational, and clinical researchers from around the world to share the latest studies, important developments, and best research methods in the ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS and related infectious diseases.
CROI 2017 will be held from February 13 to February 16, 2017, in Seattle, Washington, at the Washington State Convention Center. Webcasts, abstracts, electronic posters, and other electronic resources from CROI 2017 will be available online after the conference ends. Continue reading →
Dr. Soon-Young Yoon is an anthropologist and advocate for women’s human rights. She made the following remarks at the Botswana Harvard Partnership’s 20th anniversary celebration in Gaborone on January 26, 2017:
His Excellency former President Ketumile Masire, Honorable Minister Dorcus Makgatho, H. E. Ambassador Miller, distinguished speakers and guests.
In 2001, I was honored to represent the Harvard AIDS Initiative’s International Advisory Council when we presented His Excellency former President Festus Mogae with the Leadership Award for his inspiring response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. On that occasion, he said that we all live with AIDS because everyone has a relative or friend whose life has been changed by the disease. I remember thinking how fortunate this country was to have a leader who was willing to go against the tide of fear and doubt and express compassion instead of blame for AIDs patients.
Richard M. Smith is a member of HAI’s International Advisory Council. He attended the Botswana Harvard Partnership’s 20th anniversary celebration in Gaborone, Botswana on January 26, 2017 and delivered the following remarks:
It was in 1983 that I first heard about HIV/AIDS. I was the Executive Editor of Newsweek magazine, and our medical editors and reporters had come in to describe a mysterious disease that had received no national media attention, but was spreading at an alarming rate. By the time their briefing was over, our natural skepticism had vanished, and we ultimately scheduled a cover story. The cover image was a vial of blood, and the main headline was simply: EPIDEMIC.
The story created a firestorm. Our critics said that we were guilty of sensationalism—that we had just discovered another disease of the month. How could we raise so much fear about a disease that was still afflicting a relatively small group of people?
The Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) was established 20 years ago to help combat HIV/AIDS at the epicenter of the epidemic. At the time, about 37% of pregnant women in Botswana were infected with HIV. Dr. Joseph Makhema was a young physician working what seemed like unending hours at the public hospital in Gaborone, where effective treatment was not yet available. Today, Dr. Makhema is the CEO of the Institute he played an important role in establishing. Martha Henry, Executive Director of HAI, spoke with him about the BHP’s history and future.Continue reading →
Opioid abuse has become a major public health problem in the U.S. According to the Centers for Diseases Control (CDC), overdose deaths involving prescription opioids increased to about 19,000 deaths in 2014, more than four times the number in 2000. In 2012, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated 2.1 million people suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers, with an estimated 467,000 addicted to heroin.
Heroin and other opioids are often injected. According to Harm Reduction International, HIV prevalence is 28 times higher in people who inject drugs compared with the rest of the population. Read more.
At a time where the push for full inclusion of LGBT people is gaining ground at a remarkable pace, it’s important to acknowledge that there is still not a single country where LGBT people are not threatened and objectified, have their abilities and contributions discounted, and are subjected to violence because of their perceived or actual LGBT status. Because of this reality, it’s not surprising that LGBT people often struggle to access quality healthcare. And yet as UNAIDS deputy executive director Dr. Luiz Loures notes, “Non-discrimination in health care settings is urgent in order to end the AIDS epidemic.”
Belinda O’Donnell spoke with Monica Kriete, a fierce LGBT health advocate, a former facilitator of a discussion group for queer women in their twenties at the DC LGBT Center, and a first-year MPH student at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They talked about how to make health-care settings more inclusive for LGBT people, as well as what it’s like to commit to a career in public health at such a charged political moment in the United States.
Research to end the AIDS epidemic goes on all day (and many nights) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. To mark World AIDS Day 2016, we bring you a sampling of the important work being done around the world by our scientists, clinicians, students and staff.
Thursday, December 1, 2016
8:00 – 9:30 am • Coffee & Breakfast Provided
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health • Kresge G2
In 2015, experts were caught off guard when an HIV epidemic exploded in a rural Indiana town. Prescription painkillers were being ground up and injected, often with shared needles, an easy route for HIV transmission.
The U.S. is in the midst of an unprecedented opioid epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1,379 people died of an overdose in Massachusetts last year. The threat of another HIV outbreak among injection drug users looms, not only in the U.S., but around the world. The symposium will address the current opioid crisis and ways to limit or prevent future HIV outbreaks.
Her life has been anything but linear. Born in Beijing, Amy Wu grew up in Oregon, performed as a concert pianist in her teens, majored in biochemistry at Harvard, conducted HIV research in China and Botswana, and now works 80-hour weeks as a vice president at a tech startup. She also serves on HAI’s International Advisory Council.
Martha Henry, Executive Director of HAI, reached Amy by phone in a conference room in Manhattan.
You were one of the first Harvard undergrads to spend a semester in Botswana conducting HIV research. Almost ten years later, how do you view that experience?