AVAC partners were a dynamic presence at the Microbicides 2012 (M2012) Conference in Sydney, Australia (April 15-18, 2012). HIV prevention advocate Milly Katana—a frequent collaborator and advisor on our 2010 Advocacy Fellowship and WHiPT programs—gave a plenary address, “Making Access a Reality for All Those in Need”. Bonnie Saxon Medeossi of the Witwatersrand Reproductive Health Institute (WRHI) presented “Putting the GPP guidelines to work: Achievements and challenges for the FACTS Consortium.” Through a partnership with AVAC, Bonnie and colleagues at Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (WRHI) have been implementing the Good Participatory Practice (GPP) guidelines as a core part of the FACTS 001 trial of 1% tenofovir gel. This presentation, along with her overview in a GPP symposium led by WRHI and AVAC, resulted in networking and sharing of GPP tools amongst conference attendees. Fellow Alliance Nikuze chaired a session, “Criminalization and its intersection with HIV risk behavior” which also included presentations from 2011 Fellows Brian Kanyemba and Simon K’Ondiek. These presentations just scratch the surface of a busy week which also included the launch of Project ARM report on the African Rectal Microbicides movement in Africa (a project led by IRMA, with AVAC collaboration), presentation of the Omololu Falobi Award to long-time advocate Anna Forbes, media skills-building sessions by the Microbicides Media and Communications Initiative (MMCI), and a vibrant Advocacy Corner in the exhibition all that was brought to life by partners—including past, current (and maybe even future) Fellows—from around the world.
The PxROAR program significantly expanded this month. AVAC launched a PxROAR Europe pilot program with partner organizations WECARe+, The German Sexuality and Health Foundation, NAM, Planeta Salud and the Migrant African MSM Sexual Health Group. AVAC also selected six new members for the US-based contingent of PxROAR bringing our total number of domestic members to 17. Launched in 2009, the PxROAR program provides research literacy and advocacy training, as well as peer-to-peer support for individual and group strategic plans focused on biomedical HIV prevention research. PxROAR members represent communities hard-hit by the epidemic in the US and their projects have ranged from social media outreach to Black MSM to influencing study protocol development. Learn more about the PxROAR program here.
As just one example of the work done by members of this program, AVAC PxROAR member Charles Stephens is leading the effort on a new social marketing campaign, From Where I Stand. This campaign, started as part of Charles’ consulting work with AID Atlanta, seeks to engage young black gay men in Atlanta in affirming their sexual identities and reducing stigma around HIV. The campaign features billboards, a presence on Facebook: www.facebook.com/fromwhereistandatl, and a planned website and mobile app. Charles helps to moderate online forums and face-to-face gatherings for young black gay men, who are able to share their stories and talk about things like getting an HIV test and condom use. In its next phase Charles hopes to incorporate discussion on biomedical HIV prevention, such as PrEP and rectal microbicides. He’s been building his own literacy and engagement with these topics at AID Atlanta and through the ongoing discussions among ROAR members. From Where I Stand may expand to other cities—if you or your agency is interested, contact Charles at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AVAC’s Kevin Fisher was a co-author with colleagues from Project Inform, Treatment Action Group, and AIDS Treatment Activists Coalition, of a report on a March 2012 “Community HIV Cure Workshop.” The meeting, convened by Project Inform, TAG and ATAC, invited scientists to discuss the search for a cure for HIV infection with advocates and activists, and identify advocacy activities to overcome current obstacles.
In April AVAC released Spotlight, a biannual bulletin chronicling AVAC’s HIV Prevention Research Advocacy Fellowship. Spotlight is an excellent way to learn more about what Fellows do during their fellowship year and beyond.
Highlights from this issue of Spotlight include:
- Advocacy Fellows’ commitment to ending the AIDS epidemic
- Profiles of the 2012 cadre of Advocacy Fellows
- 2011 Advocacy Fellows’ milestones
- Inaugural 2012 Advocacy Fellows and where they are
A number of Fellows and a broad array of coalition partners have been working to influence the Country Operation Plans (CoPs) that guide the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The US government, including President Barack Obama, has made strong commitments to beginning to end the AIDS epidemic using core elements of combination prevention including ARV treatment, voluntary medical male circumcision, HIV testing and PMTCT. To meet these goals, the COPs need targets that are ambitious and strategic. For more on Country Operating Plans, read the current issue of PxWire. Since PxWire was published, Advocacy Fellows in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Kenya have led efforts to submit letters directly to the US Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator listing key concerns and demands. AVAC, amfAR and Health GAP submitted letters echoing these concerns.
More on the Fellows’ work can be found here.
Click here to download Spotlight on Advocacy Fellows.