The 2000 International AIDS Conference in Durban was a watershed moment. Prevailing opinion turned from thinking that it was impossible to treat AIDS in Africa to believing that it was impossible and immoral not to try. Nelson Mandela, who had stepped down as president of South Africa in 1999, closed the meeting. “Let us not equivocate. A tragedy of unprecedented proportion is unfolding in Africa,” he said. “Let us combine our efforts to ensure a future for our children. The challenge is no less.”
From: Scott Dryden-Peterson
Sent: Friday, June 19, 2015
Subject: BCPP milestone
Today we completed mapping of the last study community. In one of the many remarkable behind-the-scenes contributions that has made a project of this scale possible, during nights and weekends over the past 18 months, Oaitse (cc’d here) single-handedly identified and labeled ~73,700 households from Ranaka to Shakawe. We are indebted to you, Oaitse.
Missed the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston, February 22-25, 2016? No worries. You can still view videos of major HAI/BHP presentations and press conferences. Continue reading →
Time is critical in much of medicine. This is especially true for pregnant HIV-infected women who want their children to be born HIV-free. About 1.4 million women with HIV become pregnant annually. If these expectant mothers begin taking antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) before the third trimester of pregnancy, their risk of passing HIV to their babies can be reduced to as low as 1%. Without ARVs, the rate of infant infection is between 25-40%.
We have the knowledge and medications, yet less than one third of eligible women worldwide begin taking ARVs prior to delivery. In Botswana, where 29% of pregnant women are HIV positive, researchers want to do better.
On June 10th, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) honored BOTSOGO (Botswana Oncology Global Outreach program) as part of the MGH 100 awards. The event, hosted by actor and Cambridge native Matt Damon, recognized 100 individuals and organizations that are leading the fight against cancer.
BOTSOGO is a collaboration among the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP), MGH, and medical and government institutions in Botswana. The group works together to improve cancer care and research.
While AIDS-related mortality has plummeted in Africa in recent years, AIDS-related cancers are on the rise. The immune suppression caused by HIV leads to a significantly increased risk of cancer associated with viral infections. In Botswana, where about 25% of adults are HIV positive, HIV-related malignancies now account for over 60% of new cancer cases.
Until recently, Botswana lacked adequate facilities and trained specialists to treat most cancer cases. Patients were routinely sent to South Africa for treatment. BOTSOGO is working to develop capacity by collaborating with local physicians and sponsoring an active exchange between Boston and Botswana healthcare professionals.
The 39-year-old woman, vomiting and with severe abdominal pain, was admitted to the Emergency Room at a Botswana hospital. Prior to her arrival, she hadn’t been eating well and had lost a lot of weight. She had never been tested for HIV.
These facts were presented a few months later at the Botswana-Harvard Tumor Board meeting, held concurrently in a conference room at the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) in Gaborone, Botswana, and in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston. It was a challenge to connect the audio-visual feed between rooms 7,000 miles apart, but soon both groups were looking at the same pathology images.