Three Ground-Breaking HIV Studies

Three Ground-Breaking HIV Studies

Three ground-breaking studies published in the New England Journal a few weeks ago reveal the benefits of door-to-door health workers, mobile clinics, and whole community testing in reducing the rate of new HIV infections in African Countries. The first study, the Ya T’sie trial, provided HIV testing, linkage to care, and early antiretroviral treatment to communities of Botswana; the second study, Search, focused on universal HIV treatment for communities in Uganda and Kenya; and the third study, PopART, implemented combination prevention intervention with ART in communities of Zambia and South Africa. The conclusion of these workings points to a 30 percent decrease in HIV incidence proving the success of these testing and treatment efforts. The key to the success is the idea of the “warm handoff” implemented in all three studies in which the health care workers ensured anyone who tested positive for HIV followed up at a clinic and did not forget. These studies are so important considering that...
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The Trump Administration’s Domestic Gag Rule

Since running for President and into his presidency, Donald Trump and his Administration have sought to undermine women’s access to reproductive health care. Last year, the Trump Administration proposed changes to Title X—which is federal grant program that provides funding for comprehensive family planning services. Known as the “domestic gag rule,” the proposed changes “gag” or bar healthcare providers from referring their patients to abortion providers. Moreover, the rule would drastically alter access to reproductive health care, including birth control and other family planning services, for millions of women who depend on Title X funded clinics. When the Administration released the final version of the rule changes, reproductive health organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association immediately challenged the rule. Despite a preliminary injunction that prevented the rule’s implementation, on July 3, a panel of three judges lifted the injunction. Devastatingly, last week by 7-4...
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Let’s End HPV-Related Cancers Briefing Coverage

Let’s End HPV-Related Cancers Briefing Coverage

    In the U.S. alone, over 33,000 HPV-related cancers are diagnosed annually among men and women and globally, there are over 630,000 cases. The theme of the briefing, “Let’s End HPV-Related Cancers” held in Washington, D.C. on June 27, 2019 centered around how to prevent the 6 cancers caused by HPV: cervical cancer, oropharyngeal cancers, anal cancer, penile cancer, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer. Representative Kathy Castor (D-FL-14) is a leader in the House of Representatives bringing legislation to the United States to meet the WHO goal to eliminate HPV-related cancers. The tools to eliminate these cancers do exist and Representative Castor expressed optimism for saving lives and never seeing these cancers again. Starting with cervical cancer, the approach of adding vaccination, screening, and treatment is necessary for elimination. Australia, Canada, and Rwanda are three countries which have declared they will be the first to eliminate cervical cancer and the U.S. must also show initiative with this mindset.     ...
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The Irony of the Mexico City Policy

In his first days as President of the United States, Donald Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy. Also known as the Global Gag Rule, the policy “gags” international NGOs receiving U.S. aid by not allowing them to “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning.” First enacted by President Ronald Reagan, U.S. funding for critical reproductive healthcare abroad has been a partisan issue ever since with every Republican President instating the policy and every Democratic repealing it. President Trump’s reinstatement of the policy greatly expanded its parameters and includes a wide range of global health programs such as HIV funding through PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief). The expansion of the policy diminished the provision of services by international NGOS who weren’t previously affected by the policy and who feared losing critical funding from the U.S. Last week, a study published in the Lancet found that when the Mexico City Policy is instated, rates of abortion...
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New State Abortion Bans

  Photo Credits: John Benson After the recent passage of restrictive abortion legislation in Georgia and Alabama, abortion continues to be under attack across the country. The abortion bans signal continued attempts by states to undermine a woman’s right to access an abortion. Last week, Louisiana Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, signed into law a restrictive “heartbeat” bill. The law, like other recent abortion legislation, would prohibit an abortion after an ultrasound detects electric pulsing of what will become a fetus’ heart—which can occur before most women know they are pregnant. Moreover, the Louisiana law does not include exceptions for rape or incest. Although the law will not go into effect immediately, it is likely to be stalled in the courts. In Missouri, only one abortion clinic remains open. If it closes, it would be the first time a state does not have an abortion clinic since 1974—when the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade. A judge is expected to a settle...
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OMEGA FOUNDATION MEETING WITH HARUN KODIAGA – HEAD OF PROGRAMS

OMEGA FOUNDATION MEETING WITH HARUN KODIAGA – HEAD OF PROGRAMS

I had the opportunity to meet with Harun, the Head of Programs at the Omega Foundation (OF) at the Kisumu Office. The OF mission is, “to strengthen the capacity of communities to live meaningful lives through integrated health and innovative livelihood solutions” across 12 counties in Kenya: Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, Homa Bay, Busia, Bungoma, Nandi, Uasin-Gishu, Kakamega, Vihiga, and Bomet. OF undertakes various projects including Sexual and Reproductive Health Service Delivery and Advocacy projects funded by Planned Parenthood Global. The projects are being implemented in Kisumu, Siaya, and Homa Bay counties respectively with an objective to increase awareness of, access to, and use of quality family planning (FP) and Post Abortion Care (PAC) services. Twenty facilities in Kisumu are supported in delivery of the services and focus on strengthening the capacity of partners to provide facility-based FP and PAC services and advocate for expansion of Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) rights and services. To achieve their goals, the OF supports provision of...
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Alabama and Georgia Pass Restrictive Abortion Laws

  On Wednesday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law the most restrictive anti-abortion legislation in the country. The bill not only bans abortion at nearly every stage of pregnancy, it also criminalizes the procedure for doctors who perform abortions. Although women who receive an abortion will not be prosecuted, the new law targets doctors who could face up to 99 years in prison for performing an abortion. The bill includes protections when a mother’s life is endangered, but it does not include exceptions for rape or incest. While the courts have continued to reaffirm a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion since the decision in Roe v. Wade, the Alabama law is most recent attempt to challenge the 1973 precedent. Since the beginning of 2019, nearly 300 restrictive abortion laws have been introduced in state legislatures across the country. Earlier this month, Georgia governor Brian Kemp signed into law a fetal heartbeat bill that prohibits abortion after a doctor can detect...
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Kisumu Nurse Spotlight: Everline Oruko

Kisumu Nurse Spotlight: Everline Oruko

Everline Oruko is a nurse at Migosi sub-County Hospital, one of three sites in Kisumu, Kenya, that offers cervical cancer screening and treatment. As the Nursing Officer in Charge, Everline leads a team of nurses and staff to improve uptake of cervical cancer screening and cryotherapy treatment for those who test positive. Despite many fits and starts, Everline has remained a constant in the effort to reduce cervical cancer among women in Kisumu. Our Kisumu site coordinator, Faith Otewa, sat down with Everline to talk about her job and her commitment to her work in cervical cancer prevention: Everline was first employed by the Ministry of Health at Ahero Health Facility after she graduated in 1993 with a Diploma in Nursing. She further enrolled for certificate courses in Counseling and HIV Testing Services (HTS) because she felt these would make her service delivery better. Everline then became sponsored for a course in counseling supervision because of her commitment at work. Upon...
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The Inaccessibility of Sexual Health Care for Disabled Women in Canada

The Inaccessibility of Sexual Health Care for Disabled Women in Canada

In Canada, standard health protocol recommends that women receive a Pap test every few years in order to detect cervical cancer as early as possible. However, health practitioners at ACCESS, a clinic in Vancouver which provides sexual health services exclusively for disabled women, have identified a significant deficit in the accessibility of such services for the demographic they serve. This inaccessibility is derived in part from a widespread lack of appropriate equipment. Many offices do not possess an accessible exam bed with a lift, preventing gynecological screening for disabled women. Additionally, many doctors, in providing care to these women, draw upon the misguided assumption that individuals with disabilities are not sexually active and thus neglect to ask their patients for a comprehensive history of their sexual health. Because this discourse does not occur, or is  not prioritized due to more immediate health issues directly relating to the disability, cervical cancer is rarely screened for amongst disabled women, and thus persists largely...
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Tumaini La Maisha Health Services Organization

Tumaini La Maisha Health Services Organization

This is a non-profit organization that works jointly with Kisumu Hospice Center established at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) on cancer projects. Breast, cervical, prostate and esophageal cancers are its focus. The Kisumu Hospice serves the local community and supports a satellite hospice center at the Siaya District Hospital. On average, the hospice aids 50 patients each month. The organization promotes cancer awareness and helps navigation through patient referall by community screening and linkage. The foundation has established an accommodation unit in Nairobi that hosts a total of six patients at a time who have been referred for radiotherapy. It has also established a school in Nyakach (Kisumu County) for vulnerable children and offers support to the school. The organization works with partners like Aga Khan Health Services, JOOTRH and Oncology Department to offer services to cancer patients. The organization takes the lead in participating in national events, organizing medical camps and community outreach programs with an aim to...
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