The latest development in the fight against HIV/AIDs in Africa wasn’t conceived in a lab with scores of scientists, but on a TV set with actors, makeup artists, directors and producers. What are we talking about? The MTV Staying Alive Foundation produced the entertainment education program MTV Shuga, a television drama that targets African youth. Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o starred in the first two seasons of the show. The show is broadcast in over 70 countries, reaching over 750 million people worldwide.
Preventing and controlling HIV is essential to ensuring that everyone can lead healthy, productive lives. It is essential to address this disease if everyone is to share in global prosperity. The international community has made significant gains in fighting the spread of HIV as well as in increasing the survival rate of those already infected.
However, women- and in particular young women- remain vulnerable to contracting the disease. According to The Gap Report from UNAIDS, adolescent girls and young women account for one in four new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa. Globally, there are about 16 million women aged 15 years and older who are living with HIV, and 80% of them live in sub-Saharan Africa. Within this region, women acquire HIV infections at least 5–7 years earlier than men, primarily through heterosexual transmission. While there is some research that younger women are more physiologically vulnerable to HIV, the evidence also points to several non-physiological factors that help account for gender inequalities, including inequalities in education and economic opportunities, vulnerability to intimate partner violence, and women having sex with older men.
How the new peace and violence development goals can be met
For the first time, issues of violence and peace are part of a global development framework. The recently launched Sustainable Development Goals aim to “significantly reduce all forms of violence and related deaths everywhere”. While admirable in its intent and ambition, is this possible? And, if so, how? Earlier global agreements, notably the Millennium Development Goals, did not consider issues of conflict and violence. Critics point to the omission as one reason areas affected by conflict and violence lagged so far behind peaceful and stable countries on achieving the goals. Human development indicators are often far worse in conflict areas. On top of this delivering development is made more difficult by continuing violent insecurity, politicised divisions and militarisation. Unsurprisingly, people in these areas see reducing levels of violence and conflict as the most important way in which their lives could be improved.
Understand COP21 in these 7 graphics
Today marks the third day of COP21, a key milestone in the global effort to combat climate change. For the next two weeks, representatives from more than 190 countries will work towards creating a legally binding and universal agreement that spells out how countries will cooperate on climate change for decades to come. A strong Paris agreement can send the signal to the world that the global transformation to a climate-resilient, zero-carbon economy is underway. Here’s a visual look at recent progress the world has made, as well as what needs to be done in Paris and beyond to truly overcome the climate change challenge
People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.HIV first emerged in the 1980s, and soon after Brazil's infection rates quickly climbed. A decade later, in the early 1990s, Brazil and South Africa had similar infection rates. Today, however, the two countries look quite different: South Africa now has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world, with over 6 million people infected while Brazil has been able to drastically reduce the number of cases to 660,000.
Over the last 25 years, Brazil has initiated a series of steps, including the provision of free condoms and free treatment (due in part to cheap drugs obtained through negotiations with pharmaceutical companies) and was able to reduce the disease’s prevalence. Nevertheless, the number of new HIV cases is starting to rise again, as international funding for HIV/AIDS programs becomes more limited and as a generation of young people emerges that didn't experience the horror of HIV before widespread treatment was available.
In response, Ogilvy Brazil launched a campaign on behalf of the NGO Life Support Group (Grupo de Incentivo à Vida) that seeks to raise awareness and humanize the disease. They asked HIV-positive individuals to prick their fingers and add a drop of blood to posters that were then placed around São Paulo.
HIV cannot survive for more than an hour outside the human body, rendering the posters completely harmless. The idea is that, just like the posters, people with HIV are not to be feared.
At 44%, the HIV infection rate is high among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Thailand. Despite efforts to promote safe sex, HIV infection rate will rise from 30% now to 59% by 2030 if there is no radical intervention.
Evidence-informed policymaking is gaining importance in several African countries. Networks of researchers and policymakers in Malawi, Uganda, Cameroon, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Benin and Zimbabwe are working assiduously to ensure credible evidence reaches government officials in time and are also building the capacity of policymakers to use the evidence effectively. The Africa Evidence Network (AEN) is one such body working with governments in South Africa and Malawi. It held its first colloquium in November 2014 in Johannesburg.
Africa Evidence Network, the beginning
A network of over 300 policymakers, researchers and practitioners, AEN is now emerging as a regional body in its own right. The network began in December 2012 with a meeting of 20 African representatives at 3ie’s Dhaka Colloquium of Systematic Reviews in International Development.