Monday, May 23, 2011

FHI helps to spread the word of about HPTN Study 052- Initiation of Antiretroviral Treatment Protects Uninfected Sexual Partners from HIV Infection.

A very encouraging press release came out on May 11, 2011 from the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) and was followed up by this posting by the Family Health International (FHI).

HPTN Booklet

Cover of HPTN publication


Initiation of Antiretroviral Treatment Protects Uninfected Sexual Partners from HIV Infection (HPTN Study 052)

FHI Statement on HPTN 052

May 12, 2011

Men and women infected with HIV reduced the risk of transmitting the virus to their sexual partners by 96 percent through early initiation of oral antiretroviral therapy (ART), according to findings from a large-scale multinational clinical study conducted by the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN).

The clinical trial, known as HPTN 052, was designed to evaluate whether early antiretroviral use by an HIV-infected individual would reduce transmission of HIV to an HIV-uninfected partner and potentially benefit the HIV-infected individual as well. The trial is the first randomized clinical trial to show that treating an HIV-infected individual with ART can reduce the risk of sexual transmission of HIV to an uninfected partner.

HPTN is a global partnership dedicated to reducing the transmission of HIV through cutting-edge biomedical, behavioral, and structural interventions, largely funded by National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases with additional funding from National Institute on Drug Abuse and National Institute for Mental Health, at the US National Institutes of Health. FHI serves as the coordinating and operations center for HPTN. As the operations center, FHI is responsible for the scientific management of HPTN and facilitates and participates in HPTN leadership, scientific working groups, protocol teams, and the community engagement program.

"FHI is proud of our role as the Operations Center for HPTN in facilitating the HPTN 052 study," said Dr. Ward Cates, President, Research at FHI and member of the leadership of HPTN. "Treating infected individuals prevents transmission to their uninfected partner and benefits the individual. Armed with these findings, FHI can continue to contribute to the informed care and treatment and prevention of HIV through our global programs and intramural research."

HPTN 052 began in April 2005 and enrolled 1,763 HIV-serodiscordant couples at 13 sites across Africa, Asia and the Americas, the vast majority of which (97 percent) were heterosexual. An HIV-serodiscordant couple has one member who is HIV-infected and the other who is HIV-uninfected. In the study, the HIV-infected partner was required to have a CD4+ cell count (T cells) between 350-550 cells/mm3 at enrollment, and therefore did not require HIV treatment for his or her own health.

The investigators randomly assigned the couples to one of two study groups. In one group, the HIV infected partner immediately began taking a combination of three antiretroviral drugs upon study enrollment. In the other group, the HIV-infected partners began ART when their CD4 counts fell below 250 cells per cubic millimeter (cells/mm³) or an AIDS-related event occurred.

Throughout the study, both groups received HIV-related care that included counseling on safe sex practices, free condoms, treatment for sexually transmitted infections, regular HIV testing, and frequent evaluation and treatment for any complications related to HIV infection. Each group received the same amount of care and counseling. In addition, individuals who become HIV-infected during the course of the study are referred to local services for appropriate medical care and treatment.

The trial was slated to end in 2015; however, the independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) recommended that the results be released as soon as possible. The DSMB concluded that it was clear that early initiation of ART by HIV-infected individuals with relatively healthy immune systems substantially protects partners from infection, with a 96 percent reduction in HIV transmission.

Study participants are being informed of the results. The study investigators will continue following the study participants for at least one year.

"This is excellent news," said Dr. Myron Cohen, HPTN 052 Principal Investigator and Associate Vice Chancellor for Global Health and Director of the Institute of Global Health and Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "The study was designed to evaluate the benefit to the sexual partner as well as the benefit to the HIV-infected person. This is the first large randomized clinical trial to definitively indicate that an HIV-infected individual can reduce sexual transmission of HIV to an uninfected partner by beginning antiretroviral therapy sooner. HPTN recognizes the significant contribution that this study's participants have made to furthering the progress in HIV treatment and prevention. We are very grateful for their participation."

About HIV Prevention Trials Network

The HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) is a partnership between scientists and communities around the world to develop, evaluate, and implement cutting-edge biomedical, behavioral, and structural interventions to reduce the transmission of HIV. HPTN uses randomized controlled clinical trials, designed and conducted according to the highest scientific and ethical standards, to identify the best combinations of interventions for the populations at highest risk of HIV infection worldwide. HPTN is largely funded by NIAID with additional funding from NIDA and NIMH, at the NIH.

About FHI

FHI is a global health and development organization whose science-based programs bring lasting change to the world's most vulnerable people. Since 1971, FHI has worked with 1,400 partners in 125 countries, forging strong relationships with governments, diverse organizations, the private sector and communities. By applying science to healthcare programs and clinical research, FHI is helping countries make measurable progress against disease, poverty, and inequity—improving lives for millions.


For more information, view the HPTN press release (May 11, 2011) or visit
Media inquiries:

Matt Matassa


FHI - Initiation of Antiretroviral Treatment Protects Uninfected Sexual Partners from HIV Infection (HPTN Study 052)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

MinnPost - Addressing Africa's book famine: The impact is immeasurable

This editorial by Ambassador James Kimonyo’s appeared in the website on May 11, 2011 and was posted on the Books For Africa web site.


H.E. Ambassador James Kimonyo

Addressing Africa's book famine: The impact is immeasurable

By Ambassador James Kimonyo | Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I come from a family of eight in Rwanda. We worked very hard to get an education growing up. We shared books with other households and families. Sometimes we waited a week to get a book back that we had loaned out and sometimes we were lucky to get the book back the day before an examination. And so it goes for millions of schoolchildren in Rwanda and throughout Africa. We have many problems on our continent, but one of the most serious is our book famine.

As Rwanda and other countries make progress over the next 20 years, human capital and education will be the key ingredients. The only way we can transform our country is through education. Our strategy is to create a knowledge-based economy. That is our vision. There is nothing better than having books for our students to help us achieve that objective.

A container of books from St. Paul-based Books for Africa will be shipped to my country in the next couple of months through the work of Peace Corps volunteers and Ambassador W. Stuart Symington. That's 22,000 books for our children. The container will also include books for a law library donated by Thomson Reuters to help us educate young law students, build democratic institutions and develop the rule of law.

I recently visited St. Paul, where I attended a number of events sponsored by Books for Africa. I was impressed with the generosity of the people of Minnesota who donated more than $80,000 last month to help pay for books that will be sent to Rwanda and other African countries. Our people thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

For one purpose only

The West often sends money and military weapons to Africa and other developing nations. While well-intentioned, sometimes that aid ends up in the wrong hands with serious negative consequences. But books for children and for law students can only be used for one purpose and that is that is to educate. That is soft power at work in the field. A small amount of money invested in the United States is turned into thousands of books — which, in turn, are shared by millions of young people in my country and around the continent. That is a small price to pay to help us build and develop our countries.

The impact of a book in the hands of a child in my country is immeasurable. I hope that the people of Minnesota and the rest of the United States will continue to understand that concept. Your understanding and your generosity make a huge difference.

James Kimonyo is the ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the United States.

MinnPost - Addressing Africa's book famine: The impact is immeasurable

Books For Africa

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Kabissa – Connecting people and organizations for Africa



Six years ago this month I wrote about Kabissa helping folks in Africq manage the digital age.  And from the looks of things, they are still going strong.


Kabissa (our name means completely in kiswahili) is a volunteer-led non-governmental organization founded in 1999. We help African civil society organizations to put Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to work for the benefit of their communities. We do this by providing an online platform where people and organizations working in Africa can showcase themselves and connect with each other for peer learning and information sharing.

Network connecting people and organizations for Africa | Kabissa

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

AMREF | AMREF’s New Partnership with Open University

AMREF continues to find new and innovative ways to improve healthcare in Africa.  The Press Release below appeared on April 13, 2011.



AMREF is pleased to announce a new and exciting partnership with the Open University (UK).

Africa has a serious shortage of health workers and many have little or no formal training; yet, they are the ‘front line’ of health care across Africa.

Recognising a mutual belief that empowered, well-trained and well-supported health workers (including doctors, nurses, clinical officers, midwives, and community health workers) are critical to the development and success of African health systems, AMREF and the Open University will soon be embarking on a partnership to train health workers through distance learning.

The partnership was formed after recognising the common goals and ambitions of AMREF and the OU:

AMREF, Africa’s leading health development organisation, provides training for health workers in 33 African countries, equipping them with the necessary skills to address their countries’ biggest health issues; from HIV/AIDS, to antenatal care, malaria, waterborne diseases, cervical cancer to cleft palate repair. Committed to providing the best, most relevant service possible, AMREF is an expert in curricula and Human Resources for Health (HRH) development. Using an array of training methods; from classroom-based, to print-based distance learning courses to eLearning and online trainings, AMREF brings training opportunities to those who need it the most.

Open University is a world leader in modern distance learning and has recently launched the Health Education and Training (HEAT) programme in Africa. This ambitious programme aims to train 250,000 Community Health Workers (CHW) over the next five years through providing distance learning modules to increase their skills and capabilities. The HEAT programme is now piloting in Ethiopia, but is ready to be taken to other African countries, and has the flexibility and potential to be adapted for use by midwives, doctors, nurses, and other health workers. 

Recognising this shared commitment to increasing Human Resources for Health (HRH) in Africa, through this new partnership AMREF and OU will share experience and expertise, working together to develop, implement and manage distance training programmes for mid-level and community health workers. AMREF and OU will collaborate in submitting applications for joint funding, build partnerships with organisations with similar goals, and work together to roll out OU’s HEAT programme beyond Ethiopia.

“We believe that this collaboration will take AMREF’s innovative e-learning, m-learning and broader distance learning interventions further afield in Africa”, says Peter Ngatia, AMREF’s Director of Capacity Building.

“We hope to dramatically assist in the global effort to scale-up training of Human Resources for Health to ensure countries have the right numbers and competencies required for quality health delivery and attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.”

More about AMREF's work training health workers across Africa

More about Open University's Health Education and Training (HEAT) programme

AMREF | AMREF’s New Partnership with Open University

Friday, May 06, 2011

The True Size of Africa

The Serpentine Gallery had an exhibit of maps.  And among those maps was this one created by software engineer Kia Krause.

Click the link below to go to the Serpentine Gallery site.  There you can click on the link that will enlarge the image so that you will be able to read the accompanying data.


This is something to think about when considering the relevance of Africa in a global context.


Edge - Serpentine Maps Marathon