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This year’s World AIDS Day highlights the need for universal access and human rights. Illustration: National AIDS Trust.

On December 1, PATH joins partners around the globe to mark World AIDS Day and raise awareness about a disease that affects more than 33 million people. This year’s World AIDS Day highlights the themes of universal access and human rights. Not addressing vulnerable populations’ basic rights fuels the spread of HIV and worsens social harms like stigma, violence, and discrimination. It’s critical to mobilize resources, people, and political will for laws, policies, and programs to increase access to HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support for those affected by HIV/AIDS.

PATH is committed to ensuring nondiscriminatory and nonjudgmental access to adequate HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support. Our projects provide support for people living with HIV, their families, and caregivers. We address gender inequity and stigma to slow the spread of HIV, and we work closely with communities to build sustainable solutions for prevention.

Below are some highlights of our work that reflect this commitment.

Dr. Julie Pulerwitz, director of PATH’s HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis Global Program, reflects on this year’s World AIDS Day themes of universal access and human rights.

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Gender norms and stigma

Gender inequity and stigma contribute to violence and the spread of HIV/AIDS and reduce individuals’ access to important health services. Through our work in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and other countries, PATH uses interventions that address women’s decision-making power in relationships and maximize health. And through a project in China and Kenya called Breaking Gender Barriers, we are helping to address the critical need for programs that engage young men and boys in school and at work to reduce violence and HIV risk through evidence-based behavior change. Learn more in this fact sheet about how we are addressing gender to improve health.

Preventing new infections among vulnerable populations

PATH has launched several partnerships to address the information gap on tailoring and scaling up proven HIV prevention strategies for marginalized groups, including HIV-positive pregnant women and their babies, female sex workers, injecting drug users, discordant couples in which one partner is HIV-positive, and men who have sex with men. Read a fact sheet about these strategies.

Dr. Ibou Thior, deputy director of PATH’s HIV prevention programs, discusses how PATH and our partners are increasing access to HIV prevention and other related health services through cost-effective interventions in India, Senegal, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Integrating service delivery

Addressing a complex epidemic like HIV/AIDS requires diverse and integrated approaches. Through an integrated HIV/AIDS project in the Democratic Republic of Congo called ProVIC, funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), PATH leads a consortium of partners to reduce the incidence and prevalence of HIV and mitigate its impact on people living with HIV and their families. We work with communities and local governments to expand and improve HIV counseling, testing, and prevention services and to improve the care, support, and treatment for people living with HIV and children who are orphaned by or left vulnerable to HIV. We also support governments in strengthening their health systems to better meet their communities’ needs.

At the heart of ProVIC’s intervention strategy is the “Champion Community” approach, a participatory model that empowers communities to address and tackle the structural and social conditions that make people and whole communities vulnerable to HIV. Watch a short video on YouTube of Nathalie Albrow, senior program manager, discussing how ProVIC is empowering communities.

Advancing microbicides

Fighting HIV also demands an increased focus on women and girls. Women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa are especially vulnerable to HIV, and 80 percent of all women living with HIV live in this region. The Global Campaign for Microbicides, housed at PATH, is increasing awareness about and mobilizing support for the development and accessibility of topical microbicides and oral pills known as “pre-exposure prophylaxis” that can provide protection against HIV, especially for women in vulnerable situations. Watch a short video on YouTube of Yasmin Halima, director of the campaign, talking about the landmark CAPRISA microbicide clinical trials that show promise for one vaginal microbicide in development.

Addressing opportunistic infections

Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading killer of people living with HIV. PATH takes an integrated approach to enhancing prevention, care, and treatment for those infected with both TB and HIV. We scale up integrated services such as DOTS, a proven method for TB and HIV antiretroviral therapy. We also improve case detection, enhance the quality of care for people living with TB/HIV, train health care providers, and engage the private sector to provide treatment and prevention services. Learn more in these fact sheets about our work to scale up integrated TB-HIV services in Ukraine and to leverage the private sector to fight TB/HIV co-infection in Vietnam.

Linking nutrition and HIV/AIDS

In Africa, Asia, and Latin America, USAID’s Infant & Young Child Nutrition (IYCN) Project, led by PATH, is working to support mothers to practice safer infant and young child feeding—not only to prevent HIV transmission but also to protect children’s overall health and long-term survival. Patricia, an HIV-positive mother from Zambia, has kept her baby, Nawa, healthy and HIV-free by practicing exclusive breastfeeding. IYCN supports mothers like Patricia to practice exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life and continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary feeding through two years of age, based on international recommendations from the World Health Organization. Read more about Patricia and Nawa on the IYCN website.

Tom Schaetzel, PhD, the IYCN Project’s technical director, discusses how the project's nutrition interventions are saving the lives of vulnerable children, like Nawa, by reducing the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and improving child survival.

More information

Videos: PATH.

Posted November 30, 2010.