Positive news from high level HIV science conference

Headline news from the ninth International Aids Society (IAS) Conference on HIV Science in Paris is that a child born with HIV has been found free of the virus for a long time, after a high dose of treatment early in life.

Worldwide, news outlets are reporting that the discovery has raised hopes: the fact that the 9-year-old South African girl has been in remission for more than eight years holds clues for ongoing cure research. This is the third time in recent years that scientists have reported on individuals being able to hold the virus at bay. Journalists have been urged not to report this as an “Aids cure” – the patient is in remission and her case further enhances scientists’ understanding of how a cure might be developed.    

Other news from the IAS conference is further confirmation that when HIV positive people take their treatment regularly, they almost zero the probability of spreading HIV infection to others.

AND: "Broadly neutralizing antibodies" or BNA’s are another buzzword at the conference. In a Thai trial, infusions of antibodies of those rare individuals who produce very effective HIV neutralizers were given to participants to evaluate how these would function as immune boosters. This experimental therapy has held back one man's HIV infection for 10 months, participants at the IAS conference heard.

Good news all round, but larger studies need to be done to increase scientists’ understanding of this approach.

July 26, 2017




Germany Takes Leadership on Global Health

By Andrew Jack in FT Health

Just as President Donald Trump is scaling back US leadership in global health, other political leaders are coming forwards — none more so than Angela Merkel, host of the G20 summit in Hamburg, which began on Friday.  Germany has stepped up its funding and provided focus, notably around strengthening the response to the rising threat of antibiotic drug resistance. This year’s holder of the G20 presidency has also worked to boost the international system that identifies and responds to new infectious disease threats, from flu to Zika. Some experts argue that other areas deserve more attention. These include a wider commitment to tackling non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, improved family planning, broader coverage and better-quality healthcare.  

The G20 group of leading economies has a strong self-interest in encouraging better health systems in other countries to help foster economic growth and political stability.  Lack of success in this area is likely to mean greater global displacement and disruption, as people fleeing conflict or seeking better lives try to move from poorer to richer countries. Whatever the rich nations’ motives, the reality is that both interest in — and funding for — such support is limited. The new World Health Organization chief, Tedros Adhanom, has said that poorer countries outside the G20 will need to take greater responsibility for funding and building better health systems. 


July 11, 2017



Ebola threat in DRC is over

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the end of the most recent outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The announcement comes 42 days (two 21-day incubation cycles of the virus) after the last confirmed Ebola patient in the affected Bas-Uélé province tested negative for the disease for the second time. Enhanced surveillance in the country will continue, as well as strengthening of preparedness and readiness for Ebola outbreaks. "With the end of this epidemic, DRC has once again proved to the world that we can control the very deadly Ebola virus if we respond early in a coordinated and efficient way,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Internews was part of the rapid response, working with partner radio stations to relay critical information in a variety of local languages and French and Kiswahili on how to prevent infection and what to do when someone showed symptoms of Ebola. A high-level roundtable discussion was convened with journalists and in-house mentoring provided to ensure that those in affected areas received ongoing accurate information about the disease. For the first time, critical information was also provided about the Ebola vaccine, which had been approved for limited use in the most recent outbreak of the virus.

Related to the outbreak, 4 people died, and 4 people survived the disease. Five of these cases were laboratory confirmed.  A total of 583 contacts were registered and closely monitored, but no known contacts developed signs or symptoms of EVD.

July 3, 2017



Malaria data story a winner!

A data driven story from Kenya about eradicating malaria has won a coveted journalism award. A story project by Nation Media Group in Kenya titled "Researchers bet on mass medication to wipe out malaria in Lake Victoria Region" won the Data Journalism Awards (DJA) 2017 Public Choice Award.  DJA 2017 drew dozens of entries worldwide and twelve winners were selected in categories such as Data Visualization of the Year, Investigation of the Year, news data app of the Year, Open data, Data journalism website of the Year, and small newsroom awards, amongst others. The malaria story from Kenya was the only winning entry from Africa. Internews has worked intensively with health journalists in Kenya to help build and support a data journalism culture.      

June 27, 2017

Stories about the Science of Vaccines  

Health journalists in Zambia are gathered for a series of meetings and discussions hosted by AVAC and Internews in Lusaka to unpack the science of HIV vaccines and other prevention options. The country has an HIV prevalence of almost 13%, and is gearing up for clinical trials to test a new HIV candidate vaccine. “I’m so much clearer about what the numbers mean and what the science is all about”, says Lorraine Mwanza, who is leading a program of science media café’s at the Zambia Institute of Mass Communication, ZAMCOM, in Lusaka.    

June 21, 2017

Latest News From the 8th South African Aids Conference

Dozens of South African health journalists are gathered in Durban to hear updates about the response to HIV from the 8th SA Aids conference being held in Durban 13th – 15th June, 2017. The conference features research updates and debates about the best way forward.

The theme of the conference is “The Long Road to Prevention. Every Voice Counts”. WhatsUpHIV is a blog site created as a platform for young community journalists reporting the HIV story from the viewpoint of those most affected by the epidemic, young people.

Says conference chair, Dr Sue Goldstein: "we are trying to get the voices of young people heard by everyone working in the field. Not only are these young people key to education and prevention but the ways in which we engage with them now will influence how they, as adults, are able to continue to promote rights and dignity of all. Key words in the conference which we hope to hear many times are transparency, accountability, humanity, excellence and innovation. But this doesn't mean that the compelling evidence for existing known interventions will be ignored."

Internews, in partnership with AVAC and Community Media Trust is supporting the six young bloggers writing for WhatsUpHIV.    

June 13, 2017

Experimental Ebola vaccine to be used in DRC

The current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the first in the history of the disease where contacts and contacts of contacts (those exposed to the virus and their contacts) will benefit from an effective vaccine. The vaccine is not licensed, but has shown promising signs in a clinical trial in Guinea. Internews is working with partner journalists in DRC to explain how ring vaccination works and to ensure all those eligible for the vaccine will come forward.

June 5, 2017

A malaria news feature project in Kenya has been shortlisted for the prestigious international contest, The Data Journalism Awards 2017.

The project, "Researchers bet on mass medication to wipe out malaria in Lake Victoria region" shows the milestones towards ending malaria, highlighting the efforts and impact being made by a handful of scientists and researchers to curb a disease which remains life threatening to countries like Kenya. Data was derived from studies done in previous years to show the milestone made towards ending malaria. Graphs and infographics neatly explained the gains made and challenges experienced over time. We are holding thumbs for this project, which continues to show that health data journalism projects in Kenya can compete with the best in the world.  

See: http://community.globaleditorsnetwork.org/node/28404

May 30, 2017

The WHO has a new Director-General and he is the first African to head the organization. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Health in Ethiopia, will begin his five-year term on 1 July 2017. Dr. Tedros (as he prefers to be known) is credited with leading global efforts to tackle HIV and malaria and with addressing Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. Expect to see media profiles highlighting his achievements as well as the controversies around his appointment. In his home country, many opposed Dr. Tedros’ campaign to lead the world health body. They say his health leadership in Ethiopia was politically tainted. The new Director-General has a tough task ahead and an opportunity to provide leadership when U.S. foreign aid is under serious threat: pandemic outbreaks threaten global security, non-communicable diseases are taking a toll in both the developed and developing world. Other key health concerns that need to be addressed with vigor are the ongoing high rate of new HIV infections, malaria and the health of pregnant women and their infants.

Media can direct request for interviews to: 

Gregory Härtl
WHO Department of Communications
Mobile: +41 79 203 67 15
Email: hartlg@who.int

May 24, 2017

May 15, 2017







There is an outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In tandem with the health response, an international effort is underway to ensure people have the information they need, to avoid infection. The World Health Organization (WHO) says teams of epidemiologists as well as experts in social mobilization, risk communication and community engagement are putting together plans based on expertise built in West Africa. The DRC also has significant experience with Ebola management, as this is the eighth Ebola epidemic in the country.

The first known outbreak of the diseases occurred there in 1976. This time around, the news to watch is whether the new Ebola vaccine will be used in the response

See:    http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/231297-who-yet-to-decide-on-use-of-new-ebola-vaccine.html