Bristol-Myers Squibb donates US$3.5m to HIV and cancer programmes in Africa

Published: 2-Dec-2015

The grants were awarded through the Foundation's Secure the Future initiative

To mark World AIDS Day, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation has announced 16 grants totalling US$3.5m for programmes in Africa that strengthen HIV services for adolescents and the elderly, raise awareness and access to healthcare for women co-diagnosed with HIV and breast or cervical cancer, and build community capacity and integrate treatment for HIV/tuberculosis (TB) co-infection.

The grants, both new and extensions for ongoing projects, were awarded through the Foundation’s Secure the Future initiative, which brings community-based care and support to people with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. Since its launch in 1999, Secure the Future has awarded in excess of $183m in grants to more than 350 projects.

Adolescents in Africa often have difficulty accessing treatment for HIV and other health and psychosocial services. In addition, stigma and other barriers result in many teenagers being lost to care even before beginning treatment or immediately after testing positive for HIV.

Africa also has a growing population of elderly people who are HIV-positive as a result of greater access to antiretroviral therapies and a general increase in the ageing population. This trend has implications for policy, planning and practice. Most research and data have focused on the effects of the epidemic on children, youth and prime-age adults, but there is a need for studies that investigate patients aged 50 and older.

Grants for programmes that address care and support for adolescents with HIV will be implemented by Children’s Radio Project, South Africa; Sinomlando Project, South Africa; and AfricAid Zvandiri, Zimbabwe.

Studies of HIV prevention practices among adults aged 50 and older and HIV/cancer co-infection among the elderly will be implemented by the University of Cape Town’s Institute of Ageing in Africa and Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences, Tanzania.

In sub-Saharan Africa, cervical and breast cancers are the leading causes of cancer death among women

In sub-Saharan Africa, cervical and breast cancers are the leading causes of cancer death among women. The rate of cervical cancer among women living with HIV is three times higher than those who are not HIV-positive, mainly because of co-infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical and other gynaecological cancers. An estimated 60–80% of women in sub-Saharan Africa with HIV are also infected with HPV. The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation and Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon (PRRR), a global partnership fighting women’s cancers, have been working together to reduce the rate of female cancers among women who are co-infected with HIV.

Eight organisations have received grants that will continue to build knowledge about HIV and cancer, increase HIV/cervical/breast cancer screening and diagnosis efforts and strengthen the Foundation’s collaboration with PRRR. Programmes will be implemented by Tanzania Youth Alliance; Medical Women Association of Tanzania; Mbeya HIV/AIDS Network, Tanzania; Tanzania Marketing and Communications; Mathiwos Wondu-YeEthiopia Cancer Society, Ethiopia; Doctors With Africa CUAMM, Tanzania; Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Task Force, South Africa; and Forum for African Women Educationalists Swaziland Chapter.

In countries with high levels of HIV, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa, about 80% of people with TB also have HIV. Since it was launched in 1999, the Foundation’s Secure the Future initiative has been committed to helping patients with TB who also have HIV. For the past three years, the Foundation has been collaborating with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global ENGAGE-TB programme, which aims to strengthen community-based care for patients who have TB and for those co-infected with HIV.

Grants to partners who are building capacity within communities for integrated HIV/TB screening, diagnosis and treatment will be implemented by Consortium of Christian Relief & Development Association, Ethiopia; National University of Lesotho Consuls Unit; and Grassroots Poverty Alleviation Program, Kenya.

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