With over five million people infected with HIV in Southern Africa, it’s close to a fourth of the total number of Africans living with the virus today. Worldwide, there are approximately forty million individuals infected with HIV, half of which can be located in sub-Saharan Africa. And in 2009, nearly one point three million Africans died from the virus known as AIDS. With the passing of World Aids Day (Dec 01), it’s important that we remember the severity of the virus and some of the great advancements we’ve made in medical treatment and technologies.
Advanced, yet inexpensive vaccines and microbicides are amongst the top developments in medicine as preventative measures. Similarly, low costing, antiretroviral drugs have given infected populations the ability to live longer, healthier and happier lives. As important as these medicines, technologies and treatments are however, it’s even more important that we understand who’s doing what. Particularly, there has been major progress in the technologies surrounding early detection in infants. Behind such an endeavor are The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI 2005) and The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI 2002). As the brainchild of Doug Band, a close personal aid to President Clinton, the CGI has done exceptional work in the areas of global health, technology, education and more. Similarly, Clinton’s Health Access Initiative is committed to strengthening health systems in developing nations like Africa. In fact, part of their mission is to “…expand access to care and treatment for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.” This includes investing monies into technological studies surrounding medicine and treatment programs.
Before Doug Band and the CGI came into the spotlight, President Clinton ventured deep into poverty-stricken China (the area formally known as Burma) in a 60 Minutes special labeled Bill Clinton. In the segment, Dan Rather discusses how Clinton’s foundation has helped fund multiple testing labs. In the interview, Clinton states “…and there’s everything right with fighting for them to have a normal life…” Since it’s beginning, CHAI has assisted over two million people in acquiring access to medicines essential for suitable treatment. But the efforts of Former President Clinton did not end there. In the technology sector, The CGI, alongside CHAI, continues to receive funding for HIV related projects in third world countries like in Southern Africa.
Lately, they’ve joined up with Hewlett Packard (HP) to deliver technologies that will take, manage and return early diagnosis for infants in Kenya. In other words, this new technology will identify the virus in an infant within one to two days, which is a significant upgrade from traditional detection, derived from paper based systems.
But why is such early detection important? Newly borne children are very vulnerable, as their carriers can very easily transmit. Subsequently, early treatments help ensure survival. Without this immediate care, those infected typically don’t make it past age two. In a statement to the press, Former President Clinton stated, “I’m pleased HP's technology and expertise will enable the partnership with CHAI to save the lives of more than 100,000 infants in Kenya each year, and in the process, demonstrate how the private sector can and should operate in the developing world.”
In their first year, HP will be able to help over 70,000 infants in Kenya. These technologies will also permit real-time medical data, which will be viewable to health professionals across Kenya.
Still, Africa remains one of the biggest challenges for associations and non-profits like CHAI and The CGI. Recent improvements in technology have helped lessen casualty rates and lengthened lives. And although a cure remains missing, HP, CHAI and the CGI have provided a great technological progress towards abolishing the virus for good.
Jack Lundee is the chief editor for Everything Left and Shades of Green. He's an avid follower of all things green and progressive. To find out more about what Jack has to say, follow him @J_Lundee.