About last week – International AIDS Conference

From the start on Monday the 23th with our pleasant gathering at Strand Zuid, with collaborators, authors, funders and sponsors, till Friday afternoon, the International Aids Conference has been an exciting week. A week full of meeting passionate people, learning valuable lessons, reading interesting posters and strolling around in the Global Village. It has been a wonderful experience to be surrounded with all kinds of people from everywhere in the world, all with the same goal: ending the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Important focus areas of the conference were: HIV among adolescents, HIV-TB co-infection, use and effectiveness of PREP, prevention of HIV among key populations and how to ensure enough funding to continue the work. As a reaction to the effects of the global gag rule, Anton Pozniak, President-Elect of the International Aids Society and one of Health[e]Foundation authors stated: “The evidence is clear: we need better integration of sexual and reproductive health and HIV services, not policies that make it harder for people to access healthcare.”

Health[e]Foundation will continue to break barriers and build bridges regarding the health of people living with HIV/AIDS and contribute in the prevention of HIV/AIDS using our education programs via e- and m-health. Every team member of Health[e]Foundation left the conference enriched and as Prof Fransje van der Waals stated: “It was wonderful to see so many young participants from the community, clinicians to scientists. Together we will find ways to end the AIDS epidemic!”

The project managers of Health[e]Foundation want to share their most important take-home message from the conference:

Myrna Derksen
Two young girls from Eastern Europe presented their perspective on children and young people living with HIV. One of them was asked: “If you woke up tomorrow and suddenly you would be the president of your country, what is the first thing you would do?” She said she would make sure all adolescents receive comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) to prevent new infections of HIV. So although I am not the president of any country, but a project manager at Health[e]Foundation I want to keep promoting our Health[e]Living program to contribute to her mission by equipping as many community workers and educators as possible with essential skills and knowledge to facilitate CSE!

Judith de Lange
A presentation about a study which looked into the timing and determinants of post-migration HIV acquisition among sub-Saharan immigrants in France once more showed the (long-term) dreadful effects of social hardship. The study showed that immigrants not only come with an HIV infection but get infected during the settlement period and post-settlement (after six years in France), which was partly associated with transactional sex. This indicates the need and responsibility for policymakers and healthcare workers in Europe to adequately pay attention to the prevention of new HIV infections among immigrants. Healthcare workers need to integrate education concerning STI’s in their practices in a cultural sensitive manner. With the Refugee Care[e]Education course I hope to train many more Dutch general practitioners and public health professionals, to guarantee adequate high-quality care for immigrants in the Netherlands.

Vera Jamin and Renée van Hoof
We attended an oral abstract session regarding ‘Better Care: Enhancing mother and child outcomes’.
Differentiated care is very important since it can improve the client’s lives by improving the quality of care and access to treatment for PLWHA. It may also help people who are suffering from stigma and discrimination. Unfortunately, even though there are many positive aspects of differentiated care, there is also a side effect. According to one of the presenters, differentiated care may result in less (pregnant) women and mothers of newborns attending their regular checks and antenatal care visits. It is therefore highly important to ensure that there is a balance between the given care to these women.