Momentum for PrEP and Other News from USCA

In October, AVAC’s Kevin Fisher and Deirdre Grant and a number of PxROAR program members descended on Las Vegas for the United States Conference on AIDS (USCA). USCA is a US-focused conference that largely attracts front-line providers from AIDS service organizations.

This was AVAC’s fourth year presenting on PrEP at USCA, but importantly the first time since the United States FDA approved an indication for daily oral TDF/FTC (Truvada) as PrEP in July. Kevin and Deirdre led a seminar session PrEP can protect women and men against HIV! What do we need to know and do so we can translate results into public health impact? Over 75 people engaged in discussions on the state of PrEP research/implementation—the largest audience AVAC has had for this type of session at USCA—highlighting the growing need for information about PrEP, especially in translating research to rollout.

The audience participated in an energetic debate about whether at next year’s USCA, they thought they would be talking about how their communities had integrated PrEP into local HIV prevention efforts. In a reversal from previous years, almost everyone in the room was supportive of the idea that PrEP would be a part of their local prevention efforts. Previous questions surrounding PrEP have begun to be answered and its potential as a new—and needed—HIV prevention option is seen.

PxROAR members were also busy at USCA. Nichole Little led a roundtable discussion on PrEP and women based largely on her ROAR work—Sex, Biomedical HIV Prevention & The New Millennium Woman: Is PrEP The Answer For Me? Kieta Mutepfa helped facilitate a session on Strategies for HIV Prevention Message Development in Specialized Populations: A Case Study of Empowering Young MSM of Color in Los Angeles as Advocates for PrEP. Ebony Johnson was a speaker at the Opening Plenary Breakfast addressing what can be done to turn the tide of the epidemic among women and ensure social and health equity for all women in the United States.

The Change We Need to End AIDS in Uganda

2012 AVAC Fellow Alice Kayongo played a leading role in developing a civil society report, “The Change We Need to End AIDS in Uganda”, which details concerns and recommendations for shaping the national AIDS response in Uganda. This report was presented at the Joint Annual Review (JAR) of the country’s five-year National Strategic Plan (NSP) for responding to HIV/AIDS, which was first launched about a year ago. The mid-October JAR meeting was an opportunity to review progress and gaps. In the weeks leading up to the JAR, civil society participated in reviews of draft assessments of progress on the various elements of the NSP, including prevention, treatment and care, and health systems strengthening.

Kayongo was joined in this coalition effort by Sylvia Nakasi and Bharam Namanya of UNASO (2011 Fellow and Host Supervisor, respectively), and Leonard Okello, Alice’s Fellowship supervisor and Lillian Mworeko of ICW-EA (2012 Host)—as well as a broad range of other advocates.

The report, presented at the JAR, included a 10-point plan to halt new infections, save lives and ensure leadership, and provided a detailed critique of the national AIDS response to date.

This advocacy comes on the heels of a dynamic and successful campaign to increase funding for and recruitment of more than 6,000 health care workers throughout Uganda.

For a copy of the report, reach out to

Promoting Combination Prevention Through Song

Remember prevention is better than cure,
Combination prevention will see us through
To conquer this infection, it needs you;
An AIDS free generation begins with you.

Last month 2012 AVAC Fellow Chamu Mashoko and a number of Zimbabwean musicians released “For You, I Will”. The song, which uses the message of taking care of yourself as a commitment to those you love to promote combination prevention, is part of Mashoko’s AVAC Advocacy Fellowship project.

To Mashoko, a song was an obvious way to spread this message. “Music is a universal language and among most Africans, important information is disseminated through music.” The song incorporates different styles of music and is performed in the three main spoken languages of Zimbabwe with the hope of furthering its appeal. It is the latest entry into the Zimbabwean HIV prevention songbook. In July 2012 a trio of famous musicians from Africa, including Oliver Mtukudzi and Winky Dee of Zimbabwe and Vee from Botswana, released a song on voluntary medical male circumcision at the International AIDS Conference.

Since its release, Mashoko and his collaborators have been interviewed on radio and in print and people have expressed an interest in a music video.

Click to listen to “For You, I Will” and read the lyrics.

For you, I’m really going to get HIV tested!
Take all the measures that will prevent us from being infected.
And let’s encourage everybody who is affected,
They need to feel respected and not to be rejected.

Click here to listen.