Category Archives: Spotlight

Spotlight Summer 2017

Spotlight Header

The Interconnected Issue

Like it or not, we’re all connected. While officials debate whether to strengthen treaties or build walls, infectious diseases easily cross every border. This issue of Spotlight includes a story about how genetics help us understand the way HIV moves within a community, a story about how migrants may influence HIV prevention efforts, and another on how budget cuts could imperil our response to the next pandemic. Plus a profile of the new BHP Lab Director. Continue reading

Phylogenetic Viral Linkage: A Tool for Evaluating HIV Prevention Efforts

Graphics showing Phylogenetic Viral Linkage

By Martha Henry

Major HIV prevention trials are underway in African countries, including Botswana, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia. These trials involve hundreds of thousands of people and cost hundreds of millions of dollars. But how will we know if they work?

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Are Migrants Driving the Epidemic?

People waiting for the Ferry to Botswana in Kazungula.

By Martha Henry

When “Treatment as Prevention” was named Science magazine’s Breakthrough of the Year in 2011, there was optimism that we were closing in on AIDS. Results published from the HPTN 052 trial that year showed that in discordant couples, giving antiretroviral treatment (ART) to people with HIV not only was good for their own health, but also lowered the levels of HIV in their blood to undetectable levels, making the chance of infecting their partners extremely unlikely. Continue reading

The Talent & Know-How: Dr. Simani Gaseitsiwe Becomes BHP Lab Director

Simani Gaseitsiwe

If a boy from a Botswana village wins second place in the national science fair for a project on optimizing alcoholic brews, predictions about his future could involve his getting into trouble, or working for a large beer company, or, if you’re Dr. Simani Gaseitsiwe, becoming the director of one of Africa’s top research labs. Continue reading

Fogarty Under Threat

Pandemic Crisis

By Martha Henry

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget calls for eliminating the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Last year, just $69 million of the NIH’s $31 billion budget was allocated to Fogarty.

Founded in 1968, the Fogarty Center serves as a bridge between the NIH and the greater global health community by facilitating exchanges among investigators, providing training opportunities, and supporting promising research initiatives in developing countries. Continue reading

BHP Headquarters: Where the Work Happens

Botswana Harvard Partnership Building

The heart of Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) operations is the busy, three-story building on the grounds of Princess Marina, the main public hospital in Gaborone. The crowded research building houses the Botswana- Harvard HIV Reference Laboratory, the Data Management Centre, and office space for BHP staff. Continue reading

Celebrating 20 Years of Life-Saving Research

BHP 20th Anniversary Breakfast

Lives saved are always cause for celebration. The morning of January 26, 2017, in a hotel meeting room in Gaborone, Botswana, AIDS researchers, government officials, and others came together to celebrate 20 years of research, education, and training efforts by the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) to end the AIDS epidemic in southern Africa. Continue reading

Essex Considers the BHP’s First Two Decades

Dr. Max Essex at the construction site for the Botswana-Harvard Partnership, Gaborone, Botswana, 2000.

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.

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The Botswana Harvard Partnership Turns 20: Q&A with Dr. Joseph Makhema

Dr. Joseph Makhema

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

Botswana Leads in HIV Treatment

From left: Lyorlumun Uhaa, UNICEF; Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS; Max Essex, Harvard AIDS Initiative; Pride Chigwedere, UNAIDS, at a meeting for African Leaders in Addis Ababa. Photo by Aida Muluneh

By Martha Henry

Billions of dollars are spent every year on HIV/AIDS treatment programs. But how well are they working?
In the African country of Botswana, where 25% of adults (aged 16-49) are HIV positive, the answer is extremely well. In a recent paper in The Lancet HIV, researchers showed that Botswana is close to reaching the ambitious UNAIDS 90-90-90 goals. Continue reading