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The AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) is the African Community Partner for AIDS 2016. We are very excited to welcome you all in Durban! ARASA is co-hosting, facilitating and presenting at a number of sessions at AIDS 2016 in Durban, in addition to co-hosting the Human Rights Networking Zone with the Canadian AIDS Legal Network in the Global Village. We look forward to seeing you there and engaging in aligning human rights and HIV/TB. 

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What is ARASA doing, find out here!

 Human_Rights_Networking_Zone_Programme.pdf

Stories from the front line:

Voices from ENDA Santé and ARASA Partners Attending AIDS 2016

Irene Garoës Irene.jpg

As a feminist youth activist as well as young black lesbian woman, it is exciting for me to be attending AIDS 2016 this year for several reasons. Usually spaces such as this tend to be challenging because you often feel like your issues are overlooked when they should, in fact, be addressed.
For example, the language used to describe the most vulnerable groups to be infected by HIV, key populations, can at times be very excluding of groups such as women who sleep with women or lesbian women. The reasons given for this are mostly due to the belief that sex between two women uses less fluids and, as a result, their risk is considered to be low and therefore response towards the young lesbian women needs are overlooked. A risk is still a risk.

Moreover LGBTQ people are discriminated and stigmatised just by being who they are and, this in itself, is a risk. LGBTQ people experience rights abuses from, for example, not being able to seek medical services to being raped or killed. Therefore, I see spaces like this as an opportunity to voice and name different kinds of oppressions and realities women go through.

I work with a feminist organisation called Women’s Leadership Centre (WLC) in Namibia. We work with the most marginalised group of people in Namibia, young indigenous San women, women who live under customary law and young lesbian women. All of these groups of women are subjected to extreme poverty and high vulnerability to HIV/AIDS due to harmful cultural practices, poverty and stigma and discrimination just to name the few.

More than anything I am looking to learn as much as I can about the progress that has been made in the fields of HIV/Aids and TB responses and treatment and new initiatives to work within our communities. As this is the single most attended conference on HIV/AIDS, I am also excited to make valuable and insightful networks with various individuals and organisations and to build more sustainable relations with like-minded people.

I am definitely making it a point to bring back everything and share as much as I will with the women I work with. With this year’s theme of Equity, Access and rights I am passionate about the inclusion of young women’s realities with regards to the HIV epidemic pointing to the fact of different gendered experiences that we go through. I am also looking forward to the workshops. The fact that the conference comes back to Africa, South Africa in particular is an opportunity in itself.

I want to leave the conference knowing that I have learned something new, that’s relevant to today’s challenges to the response and how the other external drivers of the epidemic can be minimised.


Voices from ENDA Santé and ARASA Partners

Posted by ARASA on July 15, 2016

Voices from ENDA Santé and ARASA Partners

Kedir Kedir.jpg

I am the head of Mycobacteriology Research center at Jimma University in Jimma, Ethiopia. I have been working on TB and TB/HIV operational research for the last five years, specializing in drug-resistant TB.  I would like to share the successes and challenges we face in our research work in Ethiopia with scientists, as well as communities, patient’s advocates and health care workers attending the TB 2016 conference. In addition, our research center has plans to expand the scope of research, training and advanced services in TB through the introduction of new technologies. We hope to do so in collaboration with other researches centers and researchers in other countries that are developing key tools in the TB response.  Therefore, by attending TB 2016 conference I will be able to share with scientists, researchers and organizations our work and to establish networks and to discuss opportunities for collaboration attending the conference.

I feel the TB 2016 conference will help my work because it will be addressing the current status of TB management and challenges from case recruitment, diagnosis, treatment, control and prevention point of views both in industrialized and developing countries. The conference will also deal with the patterns of burden of TB in general and in specific WHO geographical distribution.

It is important for my work to understand the latest research on the issue of drug resistance TB from diagnosis, treatment, control and prevention of views. I look forward to learning more about the discrepancy between rate of presumptive cases that get diagnosed and those not yet reached. By engaging in these discussions, I will have a better understanding of what the possibilities are of having simple point of care diagnosis tools. To establish what needs to be in place to get greater government commitment to address all patients as well as all citizens’ human rights to ensure that they benefit from a country’s health care service.

In addition, by attending the conference I will be able to engage with the advancement of both operational and basic science research in TB. The programme provides an opportunity to discuss the progress of research in line with those factors that aggravate TB like HIV/AIDS and drug resistance. I hope to benefit from engaging with new innovations (drugs, diagnostic tool and vaccines), community awareness, community engagement in TB management program and social and societal factors etc point of views will be addressed.  I hope to share what I learn in this area with my colleagues in Ethiopia and to see what future research our Centre could be engaging in.

Last but not least, the conference will enable me to engage with the current status of TB elimination programs and challenges. It will give me and my team and opportunity to be part of the call for collaboration to achieve TB elimination goals.

For me attending this international conference is a great opportunity for acquiring advanced knowledge, skills and attitudes in the TB management and research, as well as identifying best practices. Furthermore, it is also great chance for the center I am leading to establish links with other researchers and centers to discuss opportunities for collaboration.

 


ACCESS TO TREATMENT: Routine Viral Load Testing.

Posted by ARASA on July 15, 2016

ACCESS TO TREATMENT: Routine Viral Load Testing.

With an increasing number of people living with HIV being now being able to access antiretroviral (ART) therapy is a great stride forward, however celebrating successful treatment of HIV is far from over. Nearly half of the people in need of treatment has no access to Routine Viral Load (RVL) testing, a test that is able to tell if one’s treatment is working.

London Chuma, from Zambia, saw no improvement in his health after being diagnosed with HIV and being on antiretroviral (ARV).  He was advised to go for viral load testing. The use of RVL testing is the only safe way to know if the ART is working as it should. Even if one has a high CD4 count, it is still possible to have a high viral load. Through RVL testing one is now able to determine how many copies of the virus is found in one’s blood. Through having the test done, London’s meds were change and he testifies of improvement.

“I thought my future is completely shattered. But through viral load testing, it has been resurrected. Regardless of being HIV positive, I’m still retaining that title as bread-winner. ”, London explained.

Unfortunately, the success that RVL can offer is still not benefitting everyone. A study was done on twelve countries, from these twelve countries only eight had a government policy that mandates providers to conduct RVL testing as part of HIV treatment monitoring.

Despite the incorporation of RVL in government policies, it is not sufficient to drive the demand for viral load tests. Good government policies on treatment monitoring are simply not sufficient, action is needed to benefit those living with HIV.

Doreen Nasaala, a 21 year old Ugandan who was born with AIDS, shared her frustration with her struggle to have RVL testing done. She revealed that there are only four machines in Uganda and the tests are expensive.

Doreen describes that through the inability to access the viral load test makes her “feel oppressed”, she has voiced her demand for viral load testing.

Stand with Doreen and demand viral load tests for you and your community. Routine viral load testing is part of your right to health. 

For more information about vital load testing: http://www.knowyourviralload.org

To watch London and Doreen’s story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3efVSfRBUc

To join the campaign for RVL testing http://www.knowyourviralload.org/language/en/take-action/


ARASA’s Break the Chain Calls for Drug Policy Reform to Support People Who Use Drugs in East and Southern Africa

Windhoek; 11 July 2016—A peer educator at the Mwanyanyamala Methodone Clinic, Maziabi Salum also represents the Key Population (KP) of people who use drugs (PWUD) for the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) of the Global Fund against HIV, Tuberculosis and AIDS. He is also an ex-drug user himself. After 17 years of using drugs, he underwent a two-year drug therapy at the same clinic where he is now trying to help other drug users. As he describes it, he went “from zero to hero”.

Although there is a lack of country-specific data, there are approximately 333,000 people who inject drugs (PWIDs) living with HIV in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA). Some countries are estimated to have up to 45% of their population using illicit drugs. Not only do these people face human rights abuses due to their inability to access health and legal services but, they also face discrimination and legal punishment.

Just five years ago, Maziabi, along with five of his friends, switched from smoking heroin to injecting it. Four of these friends died; one is in prison, serving a long-term sentence.

The availability of health services to PWUD would dramatically reduce the number of people who contract and die of HIV or tuberculosis. This is one of the goals for ARASA’s Break the Chains campaign, which promotes a break away from the current lack of support for PWUD. These chains stigmatize PWUDs, push them further underground, which exposes them to further risks, and do not allow them to take part in the decision-making processes that affect them. ARASA is calling for comprehensive drug policies and better access to information and resources to supoort PWUD.

The aim is to achieve comprehensive service provision for these KPs, including a public health and harm reduction approach to drug policies in ESA, to ultimately increase and mobilize resources to better identify PWUDs and to provide them with access to quality care. This begins with creating awareness nationally, which will help ESA and their communities to understand the situation holistically and to bring policies and legal frameworks in line with the commitments expressed by the United Nations Declaration on HIV and AIDS.

Global policies promote the use of prevention efforts and harm reduction services that create safer practices and spaces for drug use, such as safe injection sites and opioid substitution therapy. Reforming drug policies in ESA to reflect international standards for support of PWUDs would provide the improved services for people who wish to escape what Maziabi called “hopelessness”.

 

Please watch Maziabi’s Story : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0hVW5t7SOg

Attending AIDS 2016 you can attend a number of sessions addressing PWUD and Harm Reduction:

PWUD Networking Zone & Harm Reduction Programme
harm_reduction_networking_zone_program.pdf 

AIDS 2016 Programme -- PWUD and Harm Reduction Road Map 
pwud_and_harm_reduction_road_map.pdf 


TB Case Study

Posted by ARASA on July 15, 2016

TB Case Study

TB in Zambian Prisons

Prisoners in Zambia are afected by malnutrition, overcrowding, grossly inadequate medical care, and the risk of rape or torture, according to the Prisons Care and Counselling Association (PRISCCA), AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), and Human Rights Watch: three human rights organisation working together to address human rights violations of prisoners in Zambia.

The conditions in TB isolation cells are life-threatening, yet inmates who have completed TB treatment choose to continue sleeping in the cells with prisoners with active TB because they are less crowded than general population cells.

Medical care in the prison was non-existent when this advocacy started in 2009. The scenario was bleak: with the Zambia Prisons Service employing only 14 healthcare workers to serve 15 300 inmates, and only 15 of the country’s 86 prisons had clinics or sick bays. Inmates were frequently turned away when accessing health facilities outside the prison based on the sole judgment of non-medical oficers and most ofen challenges such as the lack of transportation and/or security fears on the part of prison oficers, led to many injustices.

The groups called on the Zambian government and its partners to make immediate improvements in prison conditions and medical care, and the criminal justice system to respect the rights of prisoners and to protect public health. The groups released a report, which outlined their demands and used the media to draw attention to the issue. 

Through the national advocacy eforts by partners, led by PRISSCA who have been working with government stakeholders, various reforms have been seen since the release of the report. The advocacy, both policy and community advocacy has led to prisoners being treated better and being able to access HIV and TB medicines. The issue of ‘congestion’ has been addressed by the Correctional Services in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance. These two departments have increased the prisons’ budget in order to build more prisons. The advocacy is ongoing and pressure continues to be placed in the government of Zambia to continue these reforms

Close the Gap: TB and Human Rights| A activist guide for Southern and East Africa

http://arasa.info/files/3914/4922/6648/Activist_guide_final_double_spread.pdf

 


Close the Gap – TB and Human Rights

Posted by ARASA on July 15, 2016

Close the Gap – TB and Human Rights

“One health care worker, one facility, one patient, two diseases. Stop ping-pong: a lack of TB/HIV integration kills”

Tuberculosis (TB) remains one of the world’s deadliest communicble diseases. Tuberculosis kills more people her day, then HIV. Although TB is a preventable and treatable disease, more than 9 million people develop TB annually and 1.5 million die from this disease with many waiting to receive effective treatment. Furthermore, key populations continue to be most vulnerable to TB because of the lack of enabling legal, social and policy environment. This is unacceptable and how can we accept a disease that can be treated within in six months to continue to kill more people than HIV/AIDS. Sadly, public understanding of TB continues to be limited and, importantly, a conversation between both the HIV and TB communities have not been given sufficient attention and remain fragmented.

In a response to the need for better collaborative interventions between the co-epidemics, and in recognition of the need for greater attention to the global TB epidemic, the International AIDS Society (IAS) is co-hosting TB2016. This is a two-day pre-AIDS2016 conference that brings together human rights activists, scientists and policy makers to deliberate over TB science and policy and find strategies to strengthen current efforts on TB literary and human rights issues in society. By hosting TB 2016 ahead of AIDS 2016, the IAS hopes to take advantage of the political and media attention around each International AIDS Conference and place the fight against TB in the spotlight. AIDS 2016 is expected to draw 20 000 participants, over 1 000 journalists and significant high-level participation from around the world to Durban – the global epicenter of the TB-HIV pandemic.

A rights-based approach is key to decreasing the burden of this disease especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. There are many human rights issues that contribute to the unequal burden of TB and access to prevention, treatment and care, such as funding, drug development, patent laws, criminalisation of TB status and research and development, which need to be addressed urgently. Michaela Clayton of ARASA argues “we will never end TB without addressing the social determinants of TB. This is where ensuring human rights is essential”. ARASA and ENDA Santé will be following closely the discussions and debates that take place during TB2016. In particular, we will be advocating for the demands made in the Call to action namely:

TB and Human Rights:

  • Conduct law and policy review and reform to ensure that human rights principles are upheld
  • Monitor and evaluate proposed interventions using human rights principles
  • Advocate for the provision of legal services for people affected by TB and 
vulnerable groups
  • Advocate for and implement programmes to reduce stigma and discrimination 


Criminalisation of TB:

  • Document cases of human rights violations regarding the criminalisation of TB
  • Advocate for increased accessibility, availability, acceptability and quality of 
community-based treatment and care of TB, especially in the case of drug- 
resistant TB.
  • Advocate for the integration of drug-resistant TB into community-based work

Access to TB prevention, treatment and care:

  • Monitor funding made available for TB and HIV interventions and advocate for 
increased funding (including global and domestic funding)
  • Monitor and advocate for the implementation of TB prevention and care methods 
for people living with HIV
  • Advocate for countries to use compulsory licensing to increase the production of 
generic TB vaccines, diagnostics and treatment 


TB and Gender:

  • Advocate for commitment to address gender and TB
  • Advocate for better data collection regarding women
  • Advocate for women-centered research and development

People most affected by TB:

  • Advocate for meaningful participatory planning and engagement of key populations in addressing TB in these groups
  • Advocate for health services that are tailored to the needs of Key Populations
  • Advocate for measures to address TB in migrants to be taken at country-level
  • Advocate for the TB needs of HCW and miners to be addressed
  • Advocate for the TB needs of prisoners to be addressed 

Materials

Close the Gap: TB and Human Rights| A activist guide for Southern and East Africa

http://arasa.info/files/3914/4922/6648/Activist_guide_final_double_spread.pdf

TB 2016 | View the full TB2016 programme Click Here [http://www.tb2016.org/Programme]

Attend:

The TB/HIV Care Association| TB HIV Networking Zone

When| 18-22 July 2016

Where| Global Village

The TB HIV Networking Zone will feature daily sessions, panel discussions, interactive social media campaigns, and much more.

The goals of the Networking Zone are to:

1) Increase participants' knowledge of the dual TB-HIV epidemic

2) Bridge the gap between HIV and TB communities and organisations by facilitating interaction and sharing best practices for integrated service delivery

3) Identify opportunities for communities, key affected populations, researchers, donors and policymakers to collaborate on TB-HIV research policy and programme design.

 

Tendayi Westerhof ARASA IAC 2016

Posted by ARASA on July 15, 2016

Tendayi__blue.jpgPan African Positive Women’s Coalition will be participating in various sessions that range from  pre-conferences, plenaries, satellites, workshops, dialogues, advocacy marches.  PAPWC will be participating at the Women Networking Zone and the Human Rights Zone among others.  We will use the opportunities to share our experiences, network and learn best practices from others on the response to HIV, AIDS, sexual and reproductive health rights and services for women and adolescent girls.  IAC must tackle  issues of migration and xenophobia as this has left many people displaced.  This has also resulted in disruption of treatment adherence by many people living with HIV and the most affected are women and children. IAC must come up with a plan to involve first ladies from African countries in particular Sub-Saharan Africa where HIV is most prevalent  and ensure that they are part of the AIDS response.   As a woman now ageing with HIV I would like to highlight that it is not easy. Whilst I agree that the focus now must be on key populations, issues of HIV and Ageing are being neglected and this group must also be included among key population. IAC must be clear on the contingent plans and how to deal with emerging issues of new epidemics such as ZIKA virus and non-communicable diseases affecting people with HIV. Being on ART has helped me a lot and my health has been good. However, there are tests like viral load, liver, and kidney function tests which I have been privileged to access but the majority of my fellow sisters and children have not been able to do so. Cost is a barrier to these tests because in my country they are not widely available. We need to advocate for quality treatment. Some people on ART have never even had a CD4 Count so the measure to check quality of health is compromised. I work with women and children in the Kadoma district. Treatment literacy in the Sanyati District area is low and with constraining funds my organization PAPWC-ZIM is unable to offer full literacy lessons.  Strengthening of grassroots support systems is a requirement that has to be prioritized. I hope to learn and interact with other women on how they are managing community strengthening with dwindling or no funding.  IAC must commit to the new global HIV targets, the 90 90 90 and the fourth 90 which is prevention through the prevention revolution. I expect IAC to re-inforce commitment to end AIDS in Africa by African Heads of States by demanding they commit to the 15% Abuja declaration.  Our international donors must continue to prioritize HIV and AIDS funding because there is still no known cure and we need to build on the gains achieved now that a new declaration to end AIDS by 2030 was adopted at the UN.  More resources to combat HIV must be channeled to developing countries and at the same time promoting domestic funding through private public partnerships.


ARASA’s and ITPC’s Key Population Financing

Posted by ARASA on July 15, 2016

ARASA’s and ITPC’s Key Population Financing Programme Supports Visibility and Influence of Key Populations of Botswana, Malawi and Tanzania

Windhoek, 11 July 2016-- Living as an individual from a key population (KP) endangers one’s rights and even one’s life. Key populations are those groups which are most affected by HIV, and include men who have sex with men (MSM), people who use drugs, LGBTI, transgender people and sex workers. Members of these populations experience human rights abuses every day. They are denied access to education, health and legal services, and are the targets of discrimination and, sometimes, physical violence. As a result, many feel as though they have no other option but to either publicly conform and deny their identities.

The difficulties of living as a member of a key population in Botswana, Tanzania and Malawi is reflected in the lack of their representation in decision-making processes affecting them and in gaps in their capacity to influence and acquire funds from international donors to support their rights.

In 2015, ARASA and the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) sought to address this issue through the Key Population Financing Programme in these countries. This intervention aimed to support advocates from KPs in their attempts to have a voice in policy-making bodies and to attract HIV financing from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (hereafter “Global Fund”).

Through the trainings coordinated by ARASA and ITPC, the three targeted KPs, namely MSM, people who use drugs (PWUD) and LGBTI, as well as their communities, received information and skill-building opportunities focused on budget and resource planning and monitoring, financing for health, and Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) representation. CCMs are country-level groups, represented by individuals from both the public and private sectors, including government officials, people from KPs, from multi- or bi-lateral agencies, and from NGOs, among others, that determine priority needs, submit grant proposals to the Global Fund for financing, and oversee the disbursement of these funds once received.

ARASA and ITPC hoped to build and strengthen participants’ knowledge of their rights and their skills to ensure that their needs are being addressed on a national scale. With these tools, the organisations and individuals who attended the trainings would be better equipped to increase the visibility and the influence of those affected by HIV, many of whom are forced to live as outcasts.

Among several achievements following this programme, groups in Malawi succeeded in tabling a petition for increased funding for health in Parliament and in increasing the Global Fund’s financing for civil society organisations by tenfold. KPs in Tanzania were represented for the first time in their CCM through participation in the review of the CCM’s governance manual. In Botswana, KPs became Global Fund recipients for the first time, and the budget allocation for human rights programming and interventions targeting KPs increased from 0% to 15%.

As a result of the success of the interventions, more funding has been secured to continue this work and to bolster sustainability of their interventions, with the aim of expanding interventions into other countries.

Attend the Key Poplulation Programme Activities at AIDS 2016

Morning Films| Hear our voice: Key Population Programme, produced by ARASA and the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC).

When| Tuesday 19th and Thursday 21st of July 2016

Time| 09:00 – 10:30

Where| Human Rights Networking Zone, Global Village 

Key populations-led interventions in Malawi, Tanzania & Botswana to realise  inclusive Global Fund investments

Presented by | HeJin Kim, ARASA Regional Key Populations Officer

When| Tuesday 19th of July 2016

Time| 12:30 – 14:30

Where | Poster Hall, Durban International Convention Center

 Show us the money: HIV and TB Financing for Key Populations at Higher Risk of HIV NOW!

Presented by | Co-hosted with the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC)

When| Wednesday 20th of July 2016

Time| 17:30 – 19:30

Where | The Palace Resort, 211 OR Tambo Parade, Durban